Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reading Bewteen the Lines: CHINA's P.L.A.N. is a Growing Pain

China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) boasts a personnel strength exceeding 250,000, with potentially unlimited growth prospects. Earlier this year, it was announced that PLAN wants to establish a world-class, blue-water navy.

In international waters it has encountered the U.S. Navy (currently the reigning world-class navy) in some memorable episodes publicly embarrassing for the United States.

First, there was the 2007 intrusion in the USS Kitty Hawk excercise with one of China's submarines. A Chinese diesel sub surfaced near a U.S. task force operated from Kitty Hawk on October 26 near Okinawa. The story was reported by the U.S. press in mid-November.As a result, but on November 24, 2007, M.E. made this prediction:

Options are numerous, but continued devaluation of the dollar against the yuan is the natural. Ouch, China! You were warned years ago to float your currency like other nations. The entire world remembers that you resisted. Your U.S investments are now worth how much less? Go suck a hundred year egg, China!

Then, in what has been termed the worst China-U.S. dispute in 8 years, there was the very serious South China Sea confrontation this past March. The unarmed USNS Impeccable monitoring submarine activity[8] 75 miles south of Hainan was harassed by several Chinese Naval ships.

Lately, of course, we have last week's "inadvertent encounter," between a Chinese submarine and the underwater sonar array being towed by the destroyer USS John McCain. The Chinese claim inadvertence as if they cannot or have not read Wikipedia on SURTASS (Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System), if not before the Impeccable incident, afterwards. Guess again, reporters.

According to , the U.S. Navy did not reveal if the American ship had detected the sub before the collision. If the array was not activated, its sound (sonar) detectors would not have detected the sub. The Chinese admitted the sub was one of theirs, and the boat was apparently following the American ship unaware that a sonar array (which usually operates over a hundred meters beneath the surface, and two kilometers behind the ship towing it) was there.

The array was damaged, but the sub and the ship did not collide, the official said. Or, was the AN/SQR-19 towed away by the Chinese to gather our secrets? Implausible considering China's spy networks in the U.S. today. Why do things the difficult way and risk provoking unnecessary U.S. ire? The Chinese are patient, not stupid.

What was their point then? Well, if they wanted to prove to the U.S. that they could render our technological superiority very vulnerable, they may have made their point in a way the U.S. would be unwilling to admit. In the same manner China demonstrated in 2007, that our satellite surveillance and communication technology could be defeated easily, so too can our towed arrays be severed at will by properly equipped subs.

What, pray tell, is the U.S. code name for China's towed array cutters (Zippos)? - Classified.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



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