Taps Coogan – April 10th, 2022
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The following chart, from Thomas Shugart – Founder of Archer Strategic Consulting, shows the number of ‘battle force’ ships in the Chinese PLA Navy compared to the US. Data after 2021 is, of course, based on forecasts.
The ships included in these totals are major surface combatants, basically everything the size of a Corvette or larger.
The most common ship types in the Chinese navy are smaller Corvette’s and Frigates, whereas the only ships smaller than a Destroyer counted in the US tally are a couple dozen Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). As a result of the larger ship size, the US Navy still has roughly twice the missile capacity and roughly twice the tonnage as China despite the trend above.
Nonetheless, China is now pumping out big ships (Cruisers, Aircraft Carriers, Amphibious Ships, and Destroyers) at a furious pace and will soon eclipse the US Navy across all metrics. Point in case, just the Destroyers that China commissioned last year contained more missile capacity than the entire British Royal Navy. Yikes.
Despite expanded shipbuilding budgets under the Trump Administration, the US Navy has failed to see its top line size expand meaningfully and doesn’t have a credible plan to do so as its budget gets consumed in the maintenance costs of an aging fleet and a healthy dose of government waste. Perhaps more than any one factor, the stagnation of the US naval fleet is the result of a slew of historically bad naval programs initiated or defined during the George W. Bush administration like the Zumwalt, Ford, and LCS which ate up gargantuan amounts of money to produce a handful of strategically ill-conceived, poorly performing ships.
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