The Xuzhou, one of China's Type 054A frigates. (Internet Photo)
China would have to sacrifice up to 40% of its naval fleet in an attempt to sink a supercarrier like the USS Gerald R Ford in a campaign, according to a report from the Moscow-based Military-Industrial Courier.
China currently possesses several effective weapons systems that could be used against a US carrier battle group, including its DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles and 12 guided-missile destroyers. The country's two Type 051C and six Type 052C destroyers are all equipped with anti-ship missiles such as the YJ-83, C-805 and YJ-62, and they would also pose a serious threat against US carriers within the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, China has purchased four Sovremenny-class destroyers equipped with Moskit SSM P-270 anti-ship missiles from Russia, the report said.
Aside from the Liaoning, the country's first aircraft carrier, the PLA Navy currently has 15 Type 054A frigates carrying HQ-16 surface-to-air missile within its vertical launching system. With the capability to defend the Chinese fleet against the US carrier-based aircraft, the Type 054A is able to sink enemy vessels with its C-803 anti-ship missile as well.
If a US carrier battle group were to enter the waters of the Chinese coast, the PLA Navy could also deploy its 10 Type 056 corvettes and 40 Type 022 missile boats to fight in guerrilla warfare at sea against the US Navy, the report said. Both vessels able to launch anti-ship missiles such as YJ-83 and C-803 and the United States Navy would lose 10% of its strength in the region if one of its carriers were to be sunk.
However, the PLA Navy would not be able to sink a US aircraft carrier easily. According to Forbes magazine, several countermethods have been developed by the US Navy to defend its aircraft carriers from Chinese attacks. While long-range unmanned aerial vehicles are able to destroy Chinese missile facilities, F-35 fighters with a combat range of 200 and 300 nautical miles enables the US ships to fight without entering the Chinese coastline.
The Military-Industrial Courier estimated that between 30%-40% of China's total naval strength would be lost to simply destroy one US carrier. Meanwhile, the biggest weakness for the US Navy in a potential conflict with the PLA Navy would be how to deploy its 11 carriers, 88 surface combat vessels, 55 Littoral Combat Ships and 31 amphibious assault ships to the Western Pacific in a short period of time, the report said.
Xu Lirong has been chairman of China Shipping Group (COSCO) since November 2013. Xu holds an MBA degree from Shanghai Maritime University and is a certified sailor and senior engineer. He has ...