Thu, Nov 30, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: China's power at sea

By Raymond Dai

According to the Washington Times, on Nov. 13 a Chinese Song-class diesel-powered attack submarine stalked the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific last month and surfaced within firing range of its torpedoes and missiles before being detected.

For the past few years, China has been enhancing its submarine fleet and improving the accuracy of its ballistic missiles, many of which are pointing at Taiwan.

In terms of the Pentagon's annual reports on China's military power, "The pace and scope of China's military buildup already places regional military balances at risk."

China continues to invest heavily in modernizing its military forces.

The Kitty Hawk battle group, including an attack submarine and anti-submarine helicopters charged with protecting the warships from submarine attack, is the oldest active-duty warship in the US Navy.

This aircraft carrier will be replaced in 2008 by the nuclear-powered USS George Washington.

However, some Taiwanese submarines are too obsolete and unable to communicate with many US and Japanese aircraft carriers, surface ships and anti-submarine aircraft.

Any Taiwanese submarine would face a severe handicap in the face of a Chinese attack, forcing the US, and perhaps Japan, to come to its rescue -- assistance which would be severely compromised as navies and air forces would not be able to communicate with their Taiwanese counterparts.

Whether a Chinese submarine surfacing within torpedo range of a US aircraft carrier was intended to send a message to the US is not clear.

The Taiwanese should be aware that Chinese naval forces are now capable of asserting a stronger presence in the Pacific.

To protect itself, Taiwan needs both diesel-powered attack submarines and P-3C anti-submarine aircraft, which have better command, communications, coordination, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems to counter China's threat under the sea.

Raymond Dai


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