Future War with (Red) China Hypotheticals/Theorycrafting

Zachowon

The Army Life for me! The POG life for me!
Founder
Pakistan is the only one of those nations that has any meaningful ability to support China in any kind of conflict (NK could if it was against SK), all the rest are utterly irrelevant to a conflict with Taiwan.


Support for something in UN resolutions means absolutely nothing in regards to support in a military conflict.

The UN's favorite pastime is passing resolutions against Israel for various reasons. Basically every Arab and Muslim state backs these in lockstep, and yet exactly how many of said nations are supporting Hamas now that the Israelis have gone to war?

Exactly none of them.

Similarly, while China may be able to pressure, bribe, and bully support for UN resolutions out of various minor nations, and even nominally hostile nations, that costs those nations just about nothing, whereas supporting China in a war could cost them overnight economic collapse if they're cut off from US export markets, or the SWIFT network.

What are Cuba or Venezuela going to do, even if they do 'back' China in a conflict? Threaten to invade Florida? The US Coast Guard and a couple states National Guard could crush these nations militaries, and they have zero ability to project force outside of close range to their own territory.

The nations that actually matter in a conflict with Taiwan, are Vietnam, Philipines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Japan. Arguably the Koreas as well, but they basically keep each other counterbalanced out of things.

All of these nations, China has bad relations with, and has actively been pissing off lately with their absurd territorial claims and 'wolf-warrior' diplomacy. China tried to invade Vietnam in living memory, and has a long history of being imperialist bastards to everyone on that list.

The US, on the other hand, has good relations with every nation on the list except Vietnam, and they have a lot less beef with us than they do the Chinese.

If Russia wasn't bleeding itself white trying and failing to subjugate Ukraine, they might have been relevant to the conflict, but at this point all that really matters, is how they've shown the whole world that American/NATO military hardware is far, far superior to what the Russians have been putting out onto the market for the last twenty years. And Taiwan is loading up on American kit, while a huge portion of Chinese military hardware, an outright majority when it comes to their airforce, isn't even Russian kit, but inferior domestic knock-offs to Chinese kit.


...I am having a hard time understanding someone like you has developed such an utterly backwards understanding of things like this.

The reason the U-boat campaigns were sinking hundreds of ships, and killing lots of civilian and military sailors, is because the Germans in both WWI and WWII were the underdog in the naval conflict, trying to fight against the World Hegemon and most powerful Navy of the world, the United Kingdom, which also had tacit and then explicit support from the USA, the runner-up to the most powerful Navy in the world.

The Royal Navy enforced a blockade of civilian shipping to Germany and Italy through the Atlantic or western Mediterranean, and after America joined the war, the eastern Medieterranean as well.

Do you know how many civilian freighters they had to sink to enforce this blockade?

Zero.

(There were some military-use transports they attacked while fighting the Italians in the Med)

Why?

Because when you are the undisputed master of the high seas (which Britain was, and America is), you don't need to sink civilian shipping, you simply sail within weapons range, then inform the civilian ship that they're not allowed to go to the nation you don't want them to go to, so they'd best turn around, unless they would like to force the issue.

Historically, merchant ship captains don't force the issue.

If the USA decides to enforce a naval blockade against China alone, what that will look like is a US Carrier Battle Group parking itself in the lower reaches of the South China Sea, and telling every freighter flagged to travel to or from China to GTFO of the war zone. If any get aggressive and try to refuse, given the fact that civilian freighters and their crews are unarmed, would be a contingent of marines being sent over on a helicopter to enforce the matter, no bloodshed needed.

In the far more likely event that Indonesia, Malaysia, Philipines, Vietnam, etc, sign on to the embargo, the US wouldn't even need to do anything directly. The Indonesians and Malaysians would get to flex their muscle on the international stage by telling any ship flagged to travel to China through the Straits of Malacca, or any of the more southerly Indonesian-controlled straits, has to turn their asses around, straits are closed to them.

All these allied nations get to play in the big leagues, go on visible military exercises with the most powerful navy in the world, and win a lot of points with both the USA, and everyone else in their neighborhood who doesn't like China. They'll be high up on the list of places to rebase low-labor-cost manufacturing that's not going to be happening in China anymore, it's basically all positives for them.

And there is absolutely nothing the Chinese can do about it.

The overwhelming majority of the PLAN can't project out as far as the Straits of Malacca, and what parts can, probably couldn't beat those local nations in a fight off their own coasts, much less the USN. Malaysia and Indonesia could close the straits with WWI-tier conventional tube artillery even if the PLAN did manage to defeat their navies in the area.


So, in short, *yes*, the USA can enforce a blockade without needing to start sinking a bunch of ships, and if China wanted to even try to break that blockade, they would need to start shooting at the USN, which brings you back to the 'America starts shooting down the entire PLAAF' scenario of my prior post.
Vietnam has growing relations with us, and the people actually tend to like America there
 

JagerIV

Well-known member
...I am having a hard time understanding someone like you has developed such an utterly backwards understanding of things like this.

The reason the U-boat campaigns were sinking hundreds of ships, and killing lots of civilian and military sailors, is because the Germans in both WWI and WWII were the underdog in the naval conflict, trying to fight against the World Hegemon and most powerful Navy of the world, the United Kingdom, which also had tacit and then explicit support from the USA, the runner-up to the most powerful Navy in the world.

The Royal Navy enforced a blockade of civilian shipping to Germany and Italy through the Atlantic or western Mediterranean, and after America joined the war, the eastern Medieterranean as well.

Do you know how many civilian freighters they had to sink to enforce this blockade?

Zero.

(There were some military-use transports they attacked while fighting the Italians in the Med)

Why?

Because when you are the undisputed master of the high seas (which Britain was, and America is), you don't need to sink civilian shipping, you simply sail within weapons range, then inform the civilian ship that they're not allowed to go to the nation you don't want them to go to, so they'd best turn around, unless they would like to force the issue.

Historically, merchant ship captains don't force the issue.

I will focus on this point for now.

This is a fair point. There is a nicer way to carry out blockades than the kill everything the US employed against Japan. You could instead have the early war blockade of inspection and seizing of contraband. Though even there you can see the number of freighters sunk was not zero. The German merchant marine was eliminated as possible. There just wasn't that many German ships.

It does point to make explicit an important divide on a blockade. Because you know the big exception to not forcing the issue? English Ships. The US and British lost a lot of Cargo ships, because they were the ones who were the ones with cargo ships to lose, and the authority to force it.

In this case, China is the one with a fleet, and certainly has the authority to order them out. In terms of total ships and ship building, China is the global leader. As of 2021 China had 44% of global ship production. That year there was 60 million tons of ships (over a 1,000 tons) manufactured, suggesting China built some 26 million tons of ships that year. As point of reference that would be the production of about 3,600 liberty ship scale ships per year.

Out of a global tonnage of 2.1 billion tons, China owns 277 million tons of it, or 13%. Accepting that the Hong Kong fleet is basically the Chinese fleet, China's merchant fleet size goes to 338 million tons of ship, roughly 16% of the merchant fleet on Earth. In number of ships over a 1,000 tons, at least from that source above, out of 55,000 registered ships, China+Hong Kong is 10,000 ships, or 18% of global fleet.

Putting a squad on each 1,000 ton vessel, say 12 would be some 120,000 men, a fair number but well within chinese capacity. Give a MANPAD, few 50 cal, and most importantly a radio to call for support.

So, blockading the Chinese navy will require killing thousands of sailors, because they will be ordered to move the cargo, as is their patriotic duty: if the US actually tried to implement a starvation blockade like you suggest, losing 1,000s or 10,000s at sea to keep stuff moving is a perfectly acceptable trade off to save millions. And China is perfectly capable of providing means of resistance.

Neutral navies fair enough will vary more by nation, but if the home nation is determined to force the issue, then the US Navy will have to be willing to shoot to maintain a blockade. Russia is an obvious candidate who is probably quite willing to arm/escort their ships (they have about 1,800 registered ships over 1,000 tons, enough to be in the top 10 of number of ships, but not top ten in gross tonnage). India and Iran likewise would probably be willing to do so, depending on how active of a position is optimal for them to take. Singapore would probably prefer not to force anything, but could if forced to as well.

Which then comes to the Chinese navy having a good number of professional military ships for escorts, counter blockade, or raiding the American navy and atritting the blockade, ships the US currently isn't particularly capable of replacing.

And this is all before the naval milia, which claims a ridiculous number of boats.
 

Marduk

Well-known member
Moderator
Staff Member
I will focus on this point for now.

This is a fair point. There is a nicer way to carry out blockades than the kill everything the US employed against Japan. You could instead have the early war blockade of inspection and seizing of contraband. Though even there you can see the number of freighters sunk was not zero. The German merchant marine was eliminated as possible. There just wasn't that many German ships.
Wholly unrealistic due to what happened since the early WW2. Those experiences didn't go away, they were only a taste of things to come in the future. For one the value of aircraft in early WW2 naval warfare was considered questionable in general, but damn a lot has chanced in the next few years.
And now we are in the age of jets, missiles and satellites.
Ships don't need to be intercepted by cruisers or torpedo boats if you want to do it quick, having to find the target by sight and get into torpedo or artillery range.
One encrypted message, and with right arrangements, a missile with discriminating radar and IR seeker will be coming at at minimum about 700 kph in minutes to look for the warship doing the blockade. Could also be supersonic with some models. And they can have range measured in thousands of kilometers. It's wholly different naval warfare paradigm than back then.
Putting a squad on each 1,000 ton vessel, say 12 would be some 120,000 men, a fair number but well within chinese capacity. Give a MANPAD, few 50 cal, and most importantly a radio to call for support.
Useless for purposes of naval warfare. Good enough against police, pirates and equivalent third world forces, and providing an excuse to blast the ship. Give them a jamming resistant sat terminal, that's it.
So, blockading the Chinese navy will require killing thousands of sailors, because they will be ordered to move the cargo, as is their patriotic duty: if the US actually tried to implement a starvation blockade like you suggest, losing 1,000s or 10,000s at sea to keep stuff moving is a perfectly acceptable trade off to save millions. And China is perfectly capable of providing means of resistance.
Trillion dollar question - how many of those sailors are this patriotic, and how many will just claim asylum in nearest third party port that doesn't have an extradition treaty with China?
Neutral navies fair enough will vary more by nation, but if the home nation is determined to force the issue, then the US Navy will have to be willing to shoot to maintain a blockade. Russia is an obvious candidate who is probably quite willing to arm/escort their ships (they have about 1,800 registered ships over 1,000 tons, enough to be in the top 10 of number of ships, but not top ten in gross tonnage). India and Iran likewise would probably be willing to do so, depending on how active of a position is optimal for them to take. Singapore would probably prefer not to force anything, but could if forced to as well.
I seriously doubt any of these will be willing or even able to do much in US+allies naval conflict against China. India, might, hypothetically in the distant future be in the right weight class to try. But Russia is badly out of shape while getting worse and Iran is in wrong weight class in terms of Navy size, technology and composition.
Which then comes to the Chinese navy having a good number of professional military ships for escorts, counter blockade, or raiding the American navy and atritting the blockade, ships the US currently isn't particularly capable of replacing.

And this is all before the naval milia, which claims a ridiculous number of boats.
True, but most of their ships do not have the range to escort the ships to where they need to go, and by escorting, they become easy targets themselves.
Hence, if it comes to it, US blockade would look more like something between WW3 scenarios and WW2 submarine campaigns of both sides than WW1 and earlier blockades.
USA and allies don't have the numbers to play nice if China pushes the issue, and if they tried, China could use this as an opportunity to grind away their warship roster at the price of small fraction of their merchant fleet.
 

LordsFire

Internet Wizard
I will focus on this point for now.
Snip.

...This is, frankly, getting old.

You're ignoring some of my points completely (the majority of the PLAN does not have the range to contest a naval blockade), and making egregious assumptions to try to bypass others (More than a bare handful of ship crews would be willing to resist an order to heave-to or divert when staring down US guns), or completely farcical (the idea that the US would have to start butchering sailors to enforce the blockade).

Marduk just posted, and covered a number of salient points, so I won't rehash them, but I will hit this:

If large numbers of Chinese-flagged or China-bound ships try to run the blockade, too many to simply board with helicopter crews?

You don't need to start slaughtering the crews. Large freighters take a fair bit of time to sink, and they have lifeboats. A single torpedo, or more likely, a few cheap rockets/light autocannon bursts to thoroughly hole it below the water line, and it starts sinking. Depending on how well-gauged the amount of damage dealt is, the crew will have minutes to hours to get to those life-boats.

Sure, you might still have some casualties around the edges, but it's going to be on the order of single-digit or dozens, not hundreds or thousands.

And how many ships do you think would need to be boarded or sunk before Chinese crews stop putting up even a token resistance? Chinese soldiers are not exactly noted for their bravery, why would their merchant sailors be exceptionally courageous?


You have been continuously proposing problems for US/US allied forces, and acting like they're insurmountable problems, when they're either easy to solve, or are in fact already solved. Frankly, it's getting obnoxious, I know you're capable of thinking things through more thoroughly than this.

Why do you just keep assuming incredibly optimistic outcomes for the commies?
 

JagerIV

Well-known member
Wholly unrealistic due to what happened since the early WW2. Those experiences didn't go away, they were only a taste of things to come in the future. For one the value of aircraft in early WW2 naval warfare was considered questionable in general, but damn a lot has chanced in the next few years.
And now we are in the age of jets, missiles and satellites.
Ships don't need to be intercepted by cruisers or torpedo boats if you want to do it quick, having to find the target by sight and get into torpedo or artillery range.
One encrypted message, and with right arrangements, a missile with discriminating radar and IR seeker will be coming at at minimum about 700 kph in minutes to look for the warship doing the blockade. Could also be supersonic with some models. And they can have range measured in thousands of kilometers. It's wholly different naval warfare paradigm than back then.

Yeah, I definately agree its quite unrealistic once things get to shooting. One of the reasons I hadn't previously considered the possibility and figured a general blockade, if not one step below nuclear war, is pretty darn close by how broad and unlimited it has to be.

Only way its not a check box on an escalatory ladder for PR reasons is in the case of general back door agreement to look like one's doing something without really doing something. For example, Japan and Korea get cold feet and don't want to lose ships, so work out a gentlemen's agreement where the Japanese seize 1 million tons of oil "contraband" and hold Chinese ships in a Japanese port for a few days, while the Chinese navy seizes 1 million tons of oil from Japanese ships as part of their counter blockade, keeping them in a Chinese port before sending them on their way.

Otherwise, if the US declares a general blockade against China, China declares a counter blockade against people with US troops stationed, or whatever specific wording that gives a fig leaf justification to blockade Korea, Japan, and Taiwan if they put US troops on the Island. And something to wave at others in the region as a threat to getting involved.

US is then obligated to defend its allies ships or back down, and assuming the US doesn't back down (not a given, seeing where else the US has backed down), you then have general naval warfare and lots of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese ships will get sunk, the question being who will do more damage and be better able to absorb it.

And probably gearing up to invade South Korea, which is probably in such an escalated fight the most direct rout for creating a situation where Taiwan can be taken.

Japan and South Korea being nervous about losing ships being one of the reasons I find escalating to such a general naval war unappealing to them if any other option is available, like a limited Falklans style fight.

Useless for purposes of naval warfare. Good enough against police, pirates and equivalent third world forces, and providing an excuse to blast the ship. Give them a jamming resistant sat terminal, that's it.

Eh, not entirely. The main point is to give some ability to resist boarding actions, so such low level attacks aren't viable, forcing the US to back off or escalate. Once in general war there's probably some value in still being armed enough that the cheapest attacks, and ones which can grant prizes to the enemy, are non viable.

With the increase in drones there's likely to be some targets a 50 cal or MANPAD could be useful against, so at least its not as trivial. Bigger ships you can slap on whatever the Chinese equivalent of the 23-40 mm cannons on to give a little bit more protection and generally add more friction to American operations: if your launching an airstrike against targets on the surface, if living ships might have AAA or SAMs on them, on top of basic spotting and early warning functions, that adds more friction to other operations.

Otherwise more hands is useful for Damage control if nothing else with a bit of training. Especially useful if operating off the Chinese coast, where a little slower sinking could allow either rescue of all the crew to replace other losses or man newly built ships, or the ship limping back to harbor so the ship itself can be repaired, which adds more friction to the US operations as the needed weapondry to score true kills is increased somewhat.

All those marginal improvements seem like they would be well worth throwing men at the problem, something China isn't short of.

Trillion dollar question - how many of those sailors are this patriotic, and how many will just claim asylum in nearest third party port that doesn't have an extradition treaty with China?

Given past performance, probably most. And of course, this is something Marines can also be helpful on. At the very least, most are going to wait until a very clear victor, and if this was isn't going to be persued to the destruction of the Communist State, all their family are still there and they likely have to go back after the war. In which case you don't want to be too obviously a traitor to the war effort. Not trying to hard can be covered. Stealing company property and sailing off course, less so.

I seriously doubt any of these will be willing or even able to do much in US+allies naval conflict against China. India, might, hypothetically in the distant future be in the right weight class to try. But Russia is badly out of shape while getting worse and Iran is in wrong weight class in terms of Navy size, technology and composition.

True, if they joined the naval fight before one side was clearly winning, their naval assets are fairly minor. They have their abilities to take their pound of flesh in other ways though. A lot of it would be in what they permit and don't. For example, Chinese tankers could pick up oil in Iran, carry it through Iranian waters, Pakistani waters, Indian Waters, and drop it off in Burma, which already has an oil pipeline which could probably be expanded. Sinking ships in any of those countries water will annoy them. India could simply refuse any other nations military ships operating in its water or harbors, which hurts the US more than China, who even if they want to operate some naval assets in the Indian Ocean can use bases in Burma, Iran, Pakistan, and possibly Shi Lanka.

Iran has its own buttons it can push in the local area, and China can supply them with weapondry and other equipment quite easily through Russia or Pakistan even if direct ocean supply is difficult. They could also close the Strait of Hormuz, and the Chinese could intercept ships coming down from the Suez Canal from their base in Africa. Obviously both of those are risky operations, more useful as a threat than executing, potentially. But, in case of general war it does draw US naval and air forces away from the China sea making victory there more likely.

True, but most of their ships do not have the range to escort the ships to where they need to go, and by escorting, they become easy targets themselves.
Hence, if it comes to it, US blockade would look more like something between WW3 scenarios and WW2 submarine campaigns of both sides than WW1 and earlier blockades.
USA and allies don't have the numbers to play nice if China pushes the issue, and if they tried, China could use this as an opportunity to grind away their warship roster at the price of small fraction of their merchant fleet.

Yeah, every day an F-35/F-18 spends shooting at freighters, especially if its not doing enough damage to actually sink them and they can limp back to port, is probably a net win for China. A Carrier is only really good for something like 100-200 sorties a day, so even if you had all the carriers brought to the front, that's only about 2,000 sorties a day. Which with all the other needs of the air wings in a combat situation doesn't leave that many free sorties, and using those on merchant ships might be a bit of a waste. Protecting allied shipping is probably going to be a big issue as well.

I think the range issue is a bit overstated, or at least the cause seems to be miss allocated. A Burke for example only has a range of 8,000 km, while the New type 55 destroyer seems to have roughly equivalent range. The smaller more numerous Type 54 frigate have a range of about 7,000, and regularly travels to Africa and has made it all the way up to the Baltics. The main range issues are 1) at sea replenishment, which China does have now, 2) Bases over seas, which they have some now, and many locations that can be turned into overseas bases with political wrangling, and 3) blocking forces, which this war of course partially is occurring to remove.

They can almost certainly get basing in Cambodia, Burma, Pakistan, Iran, and of course they're current naval base in Africa. That's enough to support fairly extensive operations in the Indian Ocean and middle East as necesary, especially with pre-positioning. Keeping oil coming in is probably the short term need to keep the war effort going, see how the naval war is progressing, and gear up for whatever land war might make the naval war more likely to end in victory.
 

JagerIV

Well-known member
Three gorges dam gets broken, China basically destroyed for the rest of history because of it.

Eh, not really. Wuhan is the only major city that may be dramatically effected, and even there its some 400 km away, meaning the city will have many, many hours of warning. You might have a few million dead, primarily in Yichang, to basically no wider effect. And even that's not guarenteed.

Remember that even in the big flood in the 1930s, most of the deaths were from starvation and disease outbreaks, not drowning.

Its also a 1,000 km inland, and doing serious damage to something that big generally takes a pretty big bomb. Its hardly a trivial target to attack.
 

Zachowon

The Army Life for me! The POG life for me!
Founder
Eh, not really. Wuhan is the only major city that may be dramatically effected, and even there its some 400 km away, meaning the city will have many, many hours of warning. You might have a few million dead, primarily in Yichang, to basically no wider effect. And even that's not guarenteed.

Remember that even in the big flood in the 1930s, most of the deaths were from starvation and disease outbreaks, not drowning.

Its also a 1,000 km inland, and doing serious damage to something that big generally takes a pretty big bomb. Its hardly a trivial target to attack.
......*Looks at the multitude of stealth aircraft thr US military has availability of...and the tact the dam is already having cracks*

Major city isn't the reason to destroy the dam.
It is a military target due to the sense it would basically cut off the food supply from the agriculture, and also kill a large swath of the population down river DUE to the increase of water in the area.
Add in the amount of tofu dreg buildings and deaths will be in the millions just from the initial disaster, let alone how many will die from famine
 

Marduk

Well-known member
Moderator
Staff Member
Eh, not entirely. The main point is to give some ability to resist boarding actions, so such low level attacks aren't viable, forcing the US to back off or escalate. Once in general war there's probably some value in still being armed enough that the cheapest attacks, and ones which can grant prizes to the enemy, are non viable.
But what are the cheapest attacks? From US Navy, it won't be Somali pirate or Iranian style boghammer boats or Shahed drones.
It will be a Harpoon from over the horizon, Hellfire from a helicopter for smaller boats, or a ship's deck gun, 57mm or 76mm usually. In addition to a 20mm or 30mm fast firing CIWS that can turn a crew onboard into minced meat.
Completely outranging and outgunning such.
With the increase in drones there's likely to be some targets a 50 cal or MANPAD could be useful against, so at least its not as trivial. Bigger ships you can slap on whatever the Chinese equivalent of the 23-40 mm cannons on to give a little bit more protection and generally add more friction to American operations: if your launching an airstrike against targets on the surface, if living ships might have AAA or SAMs on them, on top of basic spotting and early warning functions, that adds more friction to other operations.
Only against the sea ones and in constant vigilance.
US Air force is not Zambian air force or something, if they are striking ships they will be using weapons range measured in tens or hundreds of kilometers. Good luck with your autocannon. If it is CIWS capable and has right sensors it might shoot down the missile, but that would take some real money and refits for the ships.

Otherwise more hands is useful for Damage control if nothing else with a bit of training. Especially useful if operating off the Chinese coast, where a little slower sinking could allow either rescue of all the crew to replace other losses or man newly built ships, or the ship limping back to harbor so the ship itself can be repaired, which adds more friction to the US operations as the needed weapondry to score true kills is increased somewhat.
Jet engine powered cause incredibly nasty fires, that's almost as important as the warhead.
Even warship damage control can struggle with those.
All those marginal improvements seem like they would be well worth throwing men at the problem, something China isn't short of.



Given past performance, probably most. And of course, this is something Marines can also be helpful on. At the very least, most are going to wait until a very clear victor, and if this was isn't going to be persued to the destruction of the Communist State, all their family are still there and they likely have to go back after the war. In which case you don't want to be too obviously a traitor to the war effort. Not trying to hard can be covered. Stealing company property and sailing off course, less so.
Yeah, expect a lot of surrenders.
True, if they joined the naval fight before one side was clearly winning, their naval assets are fairly minor. They have their abilities to take their pound of flesh in other ways though. A lot of it would be in what they permit and don't. For example, Chinese tankers could pick up oil in Iran, carry it through Iranian waters, Pakistani waters, Indian Waters, and drop it off in Burma, which already has an oil pipeline which could probably be expanded. Sinking ships in any of those countries water will annoy them. India could simply refuse any other nations military ships operating in its water or harbors, which hurts the US more than China, who even if they want to operate some naval assets in the Indian Ocean can use bases in Burma, Iran, Pakistan, and possibly Shi Lanka.

Iran has its own buttons it can push in the local area, and China can supply them with weapondry and other equipment quite easily through Russia or Pakistan even if direct ocean supply is difficult. They could also close the Strait of Hormuz, and the Chinese could intercept ships coming down from the Suez Canal from their base in Africa. Obviously both of those are risky operations, more useful as a threat than executing, potentially. But, in case of general war it does draw US naval and air forces away from the China sea making victory there more likely.
Burma is effectively little more than no man's land, so its a very haphazard plan.
For Iran attempting to close Hormuz is a "we want an ass kicking" button and in practice would be pretty indiscriminate.
Yeah, every day an F-35/F-18 spends shooting at freighters, especially if its not doing enough damage to actually sink them and they can limp back to port, is probably a net win for China. A Carrier is only really good for something like 100-200 sorties a day, so even if you had all the carriers brought to the front, that's only about 2,000 sorties a day. Which with all the other needs of the air wings in a combat situation doesn't leave that many free sorties, and using those on merchant ships might be a bit of a waste. Protecting allied shipping is probably going to be a big issue as well.
But you don't need a F-18 to shoot at freighters.
Even common shipboard helicopters can carry torpedoes, hellfires, some even mavericks, people forget that because it's not a capability used in low intensity conflicts.
Many naval patrol aircraft and even old strategic bombers can use Harpoons and in nice quantities at that.
I think the range issue is a bit overstated, or at least the cause seems to be miss allocated. A Burke for example only has a range of 8,000 km, while the New type 55 destroyer seems to have roughly equivalent range. The smaller more numerous Type 54 frigate have a range of about 7,000, and regularly travels to Africa and has made it all the way up to the Baltics. The main range issues are 1) at sea replenishment, which China does have now, 2) Bases over seas, which they have some now, and many locations that can be turned into overseas bases with political wrangling, and 3) blocking forces, which this war of course partially is occurring to remove.

They can almost certainly get basing in Cambodia, Burma, Pakistan, Iran, and of course they're current naval base in Africa. That's enough to support fairly extensive operations in the Indian Ocean and middle East as necesary, especially with pre-positioning. Keeping oil coming in is probably the short term need to keep the war effort going, see how the naval war is progressing, and gear up for whatever land war might make the naval war more likely to end in victory.
Endurance is not the same as range, even some small landing ships can take long voyages but that doesn't make them blue water combatants.
And can they defend and supply those bases in wartime?
 

ThatZenoGuy

Zealous Evolutionary Nano Organism
Eh, not really. Wuhan is the only major city that may be dramatically effected, and even there its some 400 km away, meaning the city will have many, many hours of warning. You might have a few million dead, primarily in Yichang, to basically no wider effect. And even that's not guarenteed.

Remember that even in the big flood in the 1930s, most of the deaths were from starvation and disease outbreaks, not drowning.

Its also a 1,000 km inland, and doing serious damage to something that big generally takes a pretty big bomb. Its hardly a trivial target to attack.
That's a bit of an understatement, the destruction of the dam would be so horrific that China has noted it's comparable to a nuclear strike. ;V
 

LordsFire

Internet Wizard
Only way its not a check box on an escalatory ladder for PR reasons is in the case of general back door agreement to look like one's doing something without really doing something. For example, Japan and Korea get cold feet and don't want to lose ships, so work out a gentlemen's agreement where the Japanese seize 1 million tons of oil "contraband" and hold Chinese ships in a Japanese port for a few days, while the Chinese navy seizes 1 million tons of oil from Japanese ships as part of their counter blockade, keeping them in a Chinese port before sending them on their way.
In order for China to have the ability to sink other nations shipping, they would first need to defeat the USN and/or said nations navies. Sure, if they launched surprise undeclared attacks, they could get a few, but then they're in a shooting war with the US and allies.

Korea is an exception to this, being close enough for China to threaten 'locally,' and they might be able to get a few elsewhere with submarines, before said submarines are all sunk.


Otherwise, if the US declares a general blockade against China, China declares a counter blockade against people with US troops stationed, or whatever specific wording that gives a fig leaf justification to blockade Korea, Japan, and Taiwan if they put US troops on the Island. And something to wave at others in the region as a threat to getting involved.

Critically, in order for the Chinese to try some sort of blockade, in order to attempt to enforce that, they need to draw the US into a shooting war, which is a losing proposition for China.

US is then obligated to defend its allies ships or back down, and assuming the US doesn't back down (not a given, seeing where else the US has backed down), you then have general naval warfare and lots of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese ships will get sunk, the question being who will do more damage and be better able to absorb it.

And probably gearing up to invade South Korea, which is probably in such an escalated fight the most direct rout for creating a situation where Taiwan can be taken.

Japan and South Korea being nervous about losing ships being one of the reasons I find escalating to such a general naval war unappealing to them if any other option is available, like a limited Falklans style fight.
The reason the Falklands fight was limited, was because Argentina lacked the ability to exert meaningfully more power against the Falklands than they did.

If China starts a shooting war with the US, the PLAAF and PLAN will be memories by the time they could muster for an invasion of SK, meaning that such an invasion is basically doomed to fail.

Eh, not entirely. The main point is to give some ability to resist boarding actions, so such low level attacks aren't viable, forcing the US to back off or escalate. Once in general war there's probably some value in still being armed enough that the cheapest attacks, and ones which can grant prizes to the enemy, are non viable.

With the increase in drones there's likely to be some targets a 50 cal or MANPAD could be useful against, so at least its not as trivial. Bigger ships you can slap on whatever the Chinese equivalent of the 23-40 mm cannons on to give a little bit more protection and generally add more friction to American operations: if your launching an airstrike against targets on the surface, if living ships might have AAA or SAMs on them, on top of basic spotting and early warning functions, that adds more friction to other operations.

Otherwise more hands is useful for Damage control if nothing else with a bit of training. Especially useful if operating off the Chinese coast, where a little slower sinking could allow either rescue of all the crew to replace other losses or man newly built ships, or the ship limping back to harbor so the ship itself can be repaired, which adds more friction to the US operations as the needed weapondry to score true kills is increased somewhat.

All those marginal improvements seem like they would be well worth throwing men at the problem, something China isn't short of.
These 'marginal improvements' are not easy to implement.

First off, there are reasons that it is not standard practice to arm merchantmen, both financial and political. China deciding to arm its merchant ships as part of a general military build-up is going to go over pretty poorly with the international community, and would also be expensive to try to implement on scale.

Even if it did arm its own ships, as Marduk has addressed, it's going to be pretty bloody difficult for the kinds of weapons they can feasibly stick on a merchant vessel to actually stop attacks. Make them more expensive? Possibly, but you're increasing the cost of the attack by tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, on a ship+cargo that is worth hundreds of millions.

And it will only take so many examples made for the rest of the Chinese ships to start obeying the blockade.

At the very best, arming your merchantmen is going to result in you shooting down maybe one or a few military helicopters, before the situation devolves to 'USN tells you to surrender, or you're getting an over-the-horizon attack that sinks the ship.'

Also, the non-Chinese flagged ships are definitely not going to try to run the blockade once it's clear the US is serious, and that's going to be the majority of shipping anyways.
Given past performance, probably most. And of course, this is something Marines can also be helpful on. At the very least, most are going to wait until a very clear victor, and if this was isn't going to be persued to the destruction of the Communist State, all their family are still there and they likely have to go back after the war. In which case you don't want to be too obviously a traitor to the war effort. Not trying to hard can be covered. Stealing company property and sailing off course, less so.

True, if they joined the naval fight before one side was clearly winning, their naval assets are fairly minor. They have their abilities to take their pound of flesh in other ways though. A lot of it would be in what they permit and don't. For example, Chinese tankers could pick up oil in Iran, carry it through Iranian waters, Pakistani waters, Indian Waters, and drop it off in Burma, which already has an oil pipeline which could probably be expanded. Sinking ships in any of those countries water will annoy them. India could simply refuse any other nations military ships operating in its water or harbors, which hurts the US more than China, who even if they want to operate some naval assets in the Indian Ocean can use bases in Burma, Iran, Pakistan, and possibly Shi Lanka.
'An oil pipeline which could probably be expanded.'

Yes, they will just casually carry out a years-long infrastructure development project in a politically unstable area.

Also, you keep suggesting India would side with China at least tacitly, rather than against the nation which is trying to claim some of their border territory, and has been having (very restrained) border skirmishes with them for years. Why on earth do you think this would happen when China is looking to be taken down several dozen pegs in a fight against the US?

Iran has its own buttons it can push in the local area, and China can supply them with weapondry and other equipment quite easily through Russia or Pakistan even if direct ocean supply is difficult. They could also close the Strait of Hormuz, and the Chinese could intercept ships coming down from the Suez Canal from their base in Africa. Obviously both of those are risky operations, more useful as a threat than executing, potentially. But, in case of general war it does draw US naval and air forces away from the China sea making victory there more likely.
No, Iran cannot close the Straits of Hormuz. That is a joint Omani/Iranian sea lane, and the world at large will not tolerate Iranian attempts to close it. The US could send a single Amphibious Assault Ship and its escorts to smash the Iranian Navy flat and force the straits to be opened again, and if we felt like it, blow the Karg Island industrial facilities up and wreck their economy while we were at it.

Yeah, every day an F-35/F-18 spends shooting at freighters, especially if its not doing enough damage to actually sink them and they can limp back to port, is probably a net win for China. A Carrier is only really good for something like 100-200 sorties a day, so even if you had all the carriers brought to the front, that's only about 2,000 sorties a day. Which with all the other needs of the air wings in a combat situation doesn't leave that many free sorties, and using those on merchant ships might be a bit of a waste. Protecting allied shipping is probably going to be a big issue as well.
You again have this fantasy that it is going to take direct applied force to each and every ship to make them stop. A more reasonable expectation is that after a handful are sunk, and maybe a couple dozen boarded, no further attempts will be made. Even if the CCP manage to browbeat more crews into trying down the line, it's not going to be all or the majority.

Further, despite having generally had a positive perspective of you historically, you're starting to strain my ability to believe you're arguing in good faith with the other point in this paragraph.

If the US is enforcing a naval blockade, it's explicitly as a scenario where it is not in an open shooting war with China. Thus, there is no need to weigh blockade-enforcement sorties against combat sorties.

If China does start a shooting war with the USA, then yeah, some ships might slip through while the US is sinking the PLAN and shooting down the PLAAF, but at least a few smaller ships will still be spared to keep the blockade partially intact, and once the PLAN and PLAAF are largely memories, it'll be bloody easy to fully re-implement the blockade.

Pretending that the USN would need to be fully committed to both at the same time as an honest proposition seriously strains the idea that you're not just throwing shit out there at this point, rather than trying to have a serious argument. Again, I expect better of you.
I think the range issue is a bit overstated, or at least the cause seems to be miss allocated. A Burke for example only has a range of 8,000 km, while the New type 55 destroyer seems to have roughly equivalent range. The smaller more numerous Type 54 frigate have a range of about 7,000, and regularly travels to Africa and has made it all the way up to the Baltics. The main range issues are 1) at sea replenishment, which China does have now, 2) Bases over seas, which they have some now, and many locations that can be turned into overseas bases with political wrangling, and 3) blocking forces, which this war of course partially is occurring to remove.

They can almost certainly get basing in Cambodia, Burma, Pakistan, Iran, and of course they're current naval base in Africa. That's enough to support fairly extensive operations in the Indian Ocean and middle East as necesary, especially with pre-positioning. Keeping oil coming in is probably the short term need to keep the war effort going, see how the naval war is progressing, and gear up for whatever land war might make the naval war more likely to end in victory.

It doesn't matter how far out the PLAN can or cannot base, if they're either not in an open shooting war with the US, or all their naval assets away from their mainland AA envelope are sunk because they don't have carrier support. Either they can't use ships operating out of those bases militarily, or those ships are acting as highly-expensive new reefs because they decided to play FAFO.

And I've already addressed the fact that yes, some of the PLAN can operate at long ranges, but it is not enough to contest the USN in any meaningful way. Until they have properly functional Aircraft Carriers, or utterly overwhelming swarms of missile frigates, anything they send outside the Chinese mainland's AA envelope is just going to flat-out die in a shooting war. They might inflict some damage as they go down, but there's no feasible chance at victory.

And all of this is before you take into account the institutional corruption of the Chinese industrial complex, and what impact that will have on their navy's ability to actually fight effectively, on top of the fact that standard practice for decades has been heavier political indoctrination and less training than the US military has been decaying towards, by far. And, you know, their complete and utter lack of any kind of actual combat experience.



At every single turn, your arguments are based on absurdly optimistic expectations for how almost every peripheral factor will go for the PLAN, and completely fail to account for the fact that, in this hypothetical scenario, they're picking a fight with the most powerful and advanced nation in the world, which has an extensive network of allies, including almost all other advanced and powerful nations in the world, which China has been systematically pissing off.
 

Zachowon

The Army Life for me! The POG life for me!
Founder
Even in the US military where we take our adversaries at face value based on what they can do.
It will be bloody, that's for sure
 

ATP

Well-known member
I just read article about possible War on Taiwan.
According to Radosław Pyffel,who lived there and was in China,too, War is not very probable becouse of difference in chineese mentality compared to postsoviets.

For China leaders,war ,even succesfull,is proof of failure,becouse they should made other countries obedient without war.

Sun Tzy and all that jazz.

Moreover,China leader,Xi,come to power through carefully planned actions without open hostility.
He is to cautious to risk everything starting war,especially after putin failure.

But - war still could happen,if:
1.Taiwan openly declare independence
2.China economy would fall
3.Some accident happen which would lead to war.
 

JagerIV

Well-known member
That's a bit of an understatement, the destruction of the dam would be so horrific that China has noted it's comparable to a nuclear strike. ;V

Not really. A few million dead is saying its likely to kill more people than a generic nuclear weapon probably will. Especially if the nuke isn't a surprise and people have some warning to get to shelters, which would dramatically reduce the casualties of a wartime bomb. A nuclear bomb also isn't an existential threat to a power on the scale of China.

The Only city likely to be really devastated is Yichang, which isn't even in the top 50 largest cities in China. Its like talking about how America would be completely over if Saint Louis got nuked. Very unpleasant for the people nuked, is a big inconvenience to the supply chain for a few weeks, but most of the nation wouldn't even directly feel its effects in many obvious ways.
 

JagerIV

Well-known member
But what are the cheapest attacks? From US Navy, it won't be Somali pirate or Iranian style boghammer boats or Shahed drones.
It will be a Harpoon from over the horizon, Hellfire from a helicopter for smaller boats, or a ship's deck gun, 57mm or 76mm usually. In addition to a 20mm or 30mm fast firing CIWS that can turn a crew onboard into minced meat.
Completely outranging and outgunning such.

Only against the sea ones and in constant vigilance.
US Air force is not Zambian air force or something, if they are striking ships they will be using weapons range measured in tens or hundreds of kilometers. Good luck with your autocannon. If it is CIWS capable and has right sensors it might shoot down the missile, but that would take some real money and refits for the ships.


Jet engine powered cause incredibly nasty fires, that's almost as important as the warhead.
Even warship damage control can struggle with those.

Yeah, expect a lot of surrenders.

Burma is effectively little more than no man's land, so its a very haphazard plan.
For Iran attempting to close Hormuz is a "we want an ass kicking" button and in practice would be pretty indiscriminate.

But you don't need a F-18 to shoot at freighters.
Even common shipboard helicopters can carry torpedoes, hellfires, some even mavericks, people forget that because it's not a capability used in low intensity conflicts.
Many naval patrol aircraft and even old strategic bombers can use Harpoons and in nice quantities at that.

Endurance is not the same as range, even some small landing ships can take long voyages but that doesn't make them blue water combatants.
And can they defend and supply those bases in wartime?

Eh, I think were engaging in a bit of teleporting multiplying Americans here. As a reminder of my initial position, I hadn't considered the US trying to implement a general blockade, mostly because the US is rarely that daring, it in fact is an extremely riskly plan, and probably more ambitious than the US can actually carry out. As I said earlier, it seemed an insane plan. So at this point I'm exploring where the mix is a miss communication what is meant, where our facts conflict, and our model conflicts.

My model naval warfare and the current forces suggest you would not have the quick decisive victory being described. Lets talk about the amount of firepower needed.

Very rough rule of thumb for explosives delivered above the waterline to sink is roughly 2,000 tons per ton of warhead. Often, you will have more per small vessel, and might get more per large vessel. Looking at Praying Mantis, the Iranian 230 ton fast attack craft was hit with 5 standard missiles, which did not sink it, fired a harpoon, which missed, and had to sink it with gunfire.

A frigate weighing 1,500t took three harpoons and 6 bombs to cripple it, and even that one took several hours to actually sink.

So, there we have 5 standard missiles, say equivalent to 200 kg, so 1 ton of munitions, 4 harpoons, say another 200 kg equivalent for 800 kg, and the bombs dropped also had about 200 kg of filling, so were talking about 1.2 tons of explosives, for about 3 tons of explosives to sink 1,730 tons of ships. About one ton per 600 tons. Or, in seemingly standard US anti ship munition units, about 100 tons of ship per shot.

Ships can take a lot of munition to sink. Torpedoes are more effective, but more complicated to employ. And you still need fairly substantial torpedoes to get the good effects.

So, copying the efficiency rate of Operation Praying Mantis of 1 bomb/missile per 100 tons of warship, the Chinese navy is about 2.4 million tons, and ever growing, this suggests sinking the Chinese navy would take some 24,000 missiles. Assuming near perfect American performance, where nearly every missile hits. So, the US suffers zero casualties taking missiles with them unfired and the Chinese counter measures have zero effect.

There seems to have been about 7,500 harpoons built. Standard missiles there seems to have been roughly 5-10 thousand built. And those Standard missiles will be needed for anti air duties too. As far as I can tell, the US's anti ship missile inventory seems to be maybe in the 10-20 thousand range. Even at more optimistic 5 missiles per enemy warship, that still requires about 2,000 strikes on the warships. Which if the reserves are closer to 10k, does not give a huge margin, and requires an all in commitment of missile reserves to a decisive battle.

Merchant fleet as said earlier is 330 million tons in roughly 10,000 ships massing an average mass of 33,000 tons. Suggesting one of these might be able to take 330 shots above the waterline to sink. Even assuming merchant ships were much less survivable, say 1,000 tons of ship per harpoon scale munition, the merchant fleet could theoretically absorb 330,000 harpoons. Even at say 10 missiles per ship, that's 100,000 missiles.

This is way more than the US has on hand, nor that it can deliver in a short period of time. Nor build. Missile production of these kinds is in the dozens to hundreds. And this is ignoring all the infrastructure and land forces you would like to strike. Nor small boats, which will be mobilized, and provide local transport and other services. So, naval assets alone your talking:

aprox 800 ships in the Chinese navy itself, 350 dedicated combat vessels
aprox 10,000 large cargo ships, which may or may not be spread around the world.
aprox 25,000 fishing vessels over a 100 tons, a size useful for a wide variety of tasks
aprox 220,000 motorized vessels, already partially organized by the naval militia.

Land targets boost the militarily significant targets to several million most likely.

Now, China doesn't have nearly enough missiles and planes either to destroy the US Navy, its regional bases, or the Japanese or Korean merchant navies either. Guam by itself could probably absorb all the missiles China has capable of reaching it to no major long term effect.

So, in case of general naval war as suggested, if the US commits majorly, you have big dramatic events for 1-2 months, which China has every incentive and ability to bunker through, until the US through a mixture of casualties, formation exhaustion, and depletion of munitions has to slow down and pull back to defensive lines.

A hundred or so major ships get sunk, several thousand get damaged to various degrees of recoverability, and several hundred plans are shot down. At which point a lot of the most high tech weaponry is atrittioned through, and the most professional and elite formations get mauled/exhausted, and both sides then have to pull back and settle down to general mobilization and a long grinding war of 5-10 years.

Obviously I know you disagree with this and think this major war will buck the normal trend of large wars.
 

JagerIV

Well-known member
...This is, frankly, getting old.

You're ignoring some of my points completely (the majority of the PLAN does not have the range to contest a naval blockade), and making egregious assumptions to try to bypass others (More than a bare handful of ship crews would be willing to resist an order to heave-to or divert when staring down US guns), or completely farcical (the idea that the US would have to start butchering sailors to enforce the blockade).

Marduk just posted, and covered a number of salient points, so I won't rehash them, but I will hit this:

If large numbers of Chinese-flagged or China-bound ships try to run the blockade, too many to simply board with helicopter crews?

You don't need to start slaughtering the crews. Large freighters take a fair bit of time to sink, and they have lifeboats. A single torpedo, or more likely, a few cheap rockets/light autocannon bursts to thoroughly hole it below the water line, and it starts sinking. Depending on how well-gauged the amount of damage dealt is, the crew will have minutes to hours to get to those life-boats.

Sure, you might still have some casualties around the edges, but it's going to be on the order of single-digit or dozens, not hundreds or thousands.

And how many ships do you think would need to be boarded or sunk before Chinese crews stop putting up even a token resistance? Chinese soldiers are not exactly noted for their bravery, why would their merchant sailors be exceptionally courageous?


You have been continuously proposing problems for US/US allied forces, and acting like they're insurmountable problems, when they're either easy to solve, or are in fact already solved. Frankly, it's getting obnoxious, I know you're capable of thinking things through more thoroughly than this.

Why do you just keep assuming incredibly optimistic outcomes for the commies?

You seem to assume some absurdly optimistic outcomes for the US, with fairly minor reference to history, game theory, or the current balance of power. That the Chinese are less competent than the Iraqis, less brave than the Italians, and bigger pussies than WWII France.

These seem like poor assumptions. China would have already surrendered to the US if they were as weak as you suggest.

Now, its possible I'm still misunderstanding you, because I'm not sure yet I've understood what you think a general blockade is, what it would entail, and what plausible Chinese responses are. Conversation would probably be more productive if we can narrow down on what exactly we mean and think the plays and counter plays are. Because I think there still might be a bit of miscommunication over what exactly is being done.

Could we walk through the scenario, I'll play China/Red, and you can play USA/Blue, so we can pinpoint where our disagreement comes from, and why. So even if we have to agree to disagree, we at least understand where the other is coming from. I'll Start with the Basic scenario I initial laid out:

China
January 1st: Something happens to give a fig leaf of justification to attack Wuciou, with the date of the operation to start on April 1st.

3 months: China spends doing political maneuvers, making credible declarations that they're only intention right now is Wuciou, and everything can proceed as normal if people stay calm.

April 1st: Operations around Wuciou begin, overflights, close circling, firing shells and missiles around but not on. Political maneuvers continue that this won't change anything substantial, and an overaction will cost much more than anyone could gain.

May 1st: Landing attempted by boat or helicopter. Assuming its fired upon, troops pulled back, light shelling and bombing.

Over previous 5 months, stockpiles were built, military formations were readied and put on alert, but not generally deployed except in a reactive mode. Constant diplomatic communications were made to encourage general neutrality, and for those who want to be involved, the merit of a limited, contained war around Wuciou.
 

Marduk

Well-known member
Moderator
Staff Member
Eh, I think were engaging in a bit of teleporting multiplying Americans here. As a reminder of my initial position, I hadn't considered the US trying to implement a general blockade, mostly because the US is rarely that daring, it in fact is an extremely riskly plan, and probably more ambitious than the US can actually carry out. As I said earlier, it seemed an insane plan. So at this point I'm exploring where the mix is a miss communication what is meant, where our facts conflict, and our model conflicts.

My model naval warfare and the current forces suggest you would not have the quick decisive victory being described. Lets talk about the amount of firepower needed.

Very rough rule of thumb for explosives delivered above the waterline to sink is roughly 2,000 tons per ton of warhead. Often, you will have more per small vessel, and might get more per large vessel. Looking at Praying Mantis, the Iranian 230 ton fast attack craft was hit with 5 standard missiles, which did not sink it, fired a harpoon, which missed, and had to sink it with gunfire.
Absolutely terrible rule of thumb, completely ridiculous.
Standard is not a real anti ship missile, it's a SAM with secondary use against ships, with tendency to shred superstructure and mission kill ships, but its not built to sink ships.

Meanwhile in reality, 2 Ukrainian Harpoonski hits were enough to sink a ~10k ton cruiser.
Not immediately, which is what US Navy wanted with the overkill in your example, but generally such hurry is a luxury.
A frigate weighing 1,500t took three harpoons and 6 bombs to cripple it, and even that one took several hours to actually sink.
US Navy loves its overkill. But its a luxury, not a necessity.
So, there we have 5 standard missiles, say equivalent to 200 kg, so 1 ton of munitions, 4 harpoons, say another 200 kg equivalent for 800 kg, and the bombs dropped also had about 200 kg of filling, so were talking about 1.2 tons of explosives, for about 3 tons of explosives to sink 1,730 tons of ships. About one ton per 600 tons. Or, in seemingly standard US anti ship munition units, about 100 tons of ship per shot.
You wish, Standards have a 64kg fragmentation warhead, perfectly good for wrecking an aircraft, which is what it's meant for.
Ships can take a lot of munition to sink. Torpedoes are more effective, but more complicated to employ. And you still need fairly substantial torpedoes to get the good effects.

So, copying the efficiency rate of Operation Praying Mantis of 1 bomb/missile per 100 tons of warship, the Chinese navy is about 2.4 million tons, and ever growing, this suggests sinking the Chinese navy would take some 24,000 missiles. Assuming near perfect American performance, where nearly every missile hits. So, the US suffers zero casualties taking missiles with them unfired and the Chinese counter measures have zero effect.
It is a very unusual situation to copy, as i said.
There seems to have been about 7,500 harpoons built. Standard missiles there seems to have been roughly 5-10 thousand built. And those Standard missiles will be needed for anti air duties too. As far as I can tell, the US's anti ship missile inventory seems to be maybe in the 10-20 thousand range. Even at more optimistic 5 missiles per enemy warship, that still requires about 2,000 strikes on the warships. Which if the reserves are closer to 10k, does not give a huge margin, and requires an all in commitment of missile reserves to a decisive battle.

Merchant fleet as said earlier is 330 million tons in roughly 10,000 ships massing an average mass of 33,000 tons. Suggesting one of these might be able to take 330 shots above the waterline to sink. Even assuming merchant ships were much less survivable, say 1,000 tons of ship per harpoon scale munition, the merchant fleet could theoretically absorb 330,000 harpoons. Even at say 10 missiles per ship, that's 100,000 missiles.
Correcting for your ridiculous rule of thumb, we have a real example of freighter turned military transport being sunk in the Falkland War.
2 Exocets with 160kg warheads took out a 15k ton vessel, and those had worse warheads than Harpoons.
So even by your overly simple model, that's 45k tons per ton of warhead.
This is way more than the US has on hand, nor that it can deliver in a short period of time. Nor build. Missile production of these kinds is in the dozens to hundreds. And this is ignoring all the infrastructure and land forces you would like to strike. Nor small boats, which will be mobilized, and provide local transport and other services. So, naval assets alone your talking:

aprox 800 ships in the Chinese navy itself, 350 dedicated combat vessels
aprox 10,000 large cargo ships, which may or may not be spread around the world.
aprox 25,000 fishing vessels over a 100 tons, a size useful for a wide variety of tasks
aprox 220,000 motorized vessels, already partially organized by the naval militia.

Land targets boost the militarily significant targets to several million most likely.
Laser guided bombs work great against poorly defended ships, Mavericks work against smaller ones, Hellfires and TOWs will also sink small fishing vessels and equivalents.
Now, China doesn't have nearly enough missiles and planes either to destroy the US Navy, its regional bases, or the Japanese or Korean merchant navies either. Guam by itself could probably absorb all the missiles China has capable of reaching it to no major long term effect.

So, in case of general naval war as suggested, if the US commits majorly, you have big dramatic events for 1-2 months, which China has every incentive and ability to bunker through, until the US through a mixture of casualties, formation exhaustion, and depletion of munitions has to slow down and pull back to defensive lines.

A hundred or so major ships get sunk, several thousand get damaged to various degrees of recoverability, and several hundred plans are shot down. At which point a lot of the most high tech weaponry is atrittioned through, and the most professional and elite formations get mauled/exhausted, and both sides then have to pull back and settle down to general mobilization and a long grinding war of 5-10 years.

Obviously I know you disagree with this and think this major war will buck the normal trend of large wars.
Once you correct your conceptions of naval missile warfare, sure.
 

JagerIV

Well-known member
Absolutely terrible rule of thumb, completely ridiculous.
Standard is not a real anti ship missile, it's a SAM with secondary use against ships, with tendency to shred superstructure and mission kill ships, but its not built to sink ships.

Meanwhile in reality, 2 Ukrainian Harpoonski hits were enough to sink a ~10k ton cruiser.
Not immediately, which is what US Navy wanted with the overkill in your example, but generally such hurry is a luxury.

US Navy loves its overkill. But its a luxury, not a necessity.

You wish, Standards have a 64kg fragmentation warhead, perfectly good for wrecking an aircraft, which is what it's meant for.

It is a very unusual situation to copy, as i said.

Correcting for your ridiculous rule of thumb, we have a real example of freighter turned military transport being sunk in the Falkland War.
2 Exocets with 160kg warheads took out a 15k ton vessel, and those had worse warheads than Harpoons.
So even by your overly simple model, that's 45k tons per ton of warhead.

Laser guided bombs work great against poorly defended ships, Mavericks work against smaller ones, Hellfires and TOWs will also sink small fishing vessels and equivalents.

Once you correct your conceptions of naval missile warfare, sure.

Yes, the US loves overkill out of a general risk adverse ness. This I would not expect to change in a war situation. We have a fair bit of history and examples of ships taking a lot of damage to actually sink. Plus tests. I put the Standard higher because its fast, which adds to lethality over the warhead range.

Mantis is simply some of the most recent examples we have of it. Disabling takes a lot less, but that just pushes things more to relatively indecisive war. For example, China might launch a 100 missiles against a Carrier, get 3 hits, which kill a dozen crewmen and make carrier operations non-viable, but don't sink or otherwise cripple the ship. So, the Carrier is out of the war for possibly a couple of months as it returns home and is repaired, but is back in combat 6 months from now. Meanwhile China might with full ramp up manufacture 100 missiles a month, but since there's so many other targets that need to be shot at, its not actually building all that much ahead of US fleets ability to absorb hits through the mixture of repairs, countermeasures, and construction.

China would assumedly do the same kind of thing.

Single examples are always a a bit trickly to base things on. Fort Hood died very quickly of a luckly shot, while Bismarck took a lot of pounding. Your example however is not a particularly good one. Its a civilian ship, converted into a carrier of sorts, which was loaded with ammunition and fuel which burned uncontrollably, started being towed once the fires had burned themselves out, and only then sunk under towing 3-4 days later. I wish I could find some info on how far they towed it, but even assuming fairly slow tug speed (another thing I couldn't find quickly) of 10 kmh, 1 day could move a ship 240 km, 3 days 720 km. That would be enough to tow a ship struck off the coast of the Philippines back to Hong Kong.

So, you had a relatively light cargo craft, with the least optimal cargo, a very small crew, out in the middle of no where, which still took 3-4 days to actually sink. In many other situations those would have been quite survivable hits. And of course, even given a ratio of 2 missiles per 15,000 tons of cargo ship, your still talking about 44,000 missile hits to sink the heavy merchant fleet. Let alone the lighter craft who will be pressed in to perform various services.

And that's just the last line of survivability. Obviously, a missile boat or ship getting a missile hit on a Burke and burning up 96 unfired missiles that way is preferable to tanking the hits on a 100 ships. Number of hits to the face is just a rough measure of how many mistakes you can afford to make. China is big enough to afford several.
 

ThatZenoGuy

Zealous Evolutionary Nano Organism
The Moskva being sunk by 2 Harpoonskis isn't exactly crazy when you look at what state that ship was in, ammunition littered all over the place, no doubt damage control systems nonfunctional or malfunctioning, crew with the training of an insect, etc.
Even just 1 of those missiles would likely have done her in for good.
 

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