China’s Navy Outnumbers US Navy

The 2020 US Department of Defense reports that China’s Navy has more vessels than the US Navy.

The PRC has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants. In comparison, the U.S. Navy’s battle force is approximately 293 ships as of early 2020. China is the top ship-producing nation in the world by tonnage and is increasing its shipbuilding capacity and capability for all naval classes. US Navy ships are still bigger and generally more capable but the US has been overpaying its contractors for ships and planes for decades. Even though the US outspends China for its military they are getting less.

Land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles: The PRC has developed its conventional missile forces unrestrained by any international agreements. The PRC has more than 1,250 ground-launched ballistic missiles (GLBMs) and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The United States currently fields one type of conventional GLBM with a range of 70 to 300 kilometers and no GLCMs.

Integrated air defense systems: The PRC has one of the world’s largest forces of advanced long-range surface-to-air systems—including Russian-built S-400s, S-300s, and domestically produced systems—that constitute part of its robust and redundant integrated air defense system (IADS) architecture

The PRC’s strategy includes advancing a comprehensive military modernization program that aims to “basically” complete military modernization by 2035 and transform the PLA into a “worldclass” military by the end of 2049.

Satellite images of the first Type 003 carrier under construction suggest the Type 003 carriers will be closer in displacement to U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, which have a displacement of about 100,000 tons. The Type 003 carriers are expected to be equipped with electromagnetic catapults rather than a ski ramp, which will improve the range/payload capability of the fixed-wing aircraft that they operate.

In 2019, China’s actual military-related spending could be more than $200 billion, much higher than stated in its official budget. However, actual military expenses are difficult to calculate, largely because of China’s poor
accounting transparency. If China’s official defense budget increases annually by an average of 6 percent, growing to $270 billion by 2023.

ONI (Office of Navy Intelligence) [FAS – China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities] states that at the end of 2020, China’s will have 360 battle force ships, compared with a projected total of 297 for the U.S. Navy at the end of FY2020. ONI projects that China will have 400 battle force ships by 2025, and 425 by 2030. ONI projects that China’s submarine force will grow from a total of 66 boats (4 SSBNs, 7 SSNs, and 55 SSs) in 2020 to 76 boats (8 SSBNs, 13 SSNs, and 55 SSs) in 2030.

Yuan Class Type 039 submarine

China’s newest series-built SS design is the Yuan-class (Type 039) SS, its newest SSN class is the Shang-class (Type 093) SSN (Figure 7), and its newest SSBN class is the Jin (Type 094) class SSBN. In May 2020, it was reported that two additional Type 094 SSBNs had entered service, increasing the total number in service to six. The PRC is expected to produce a total of 25 or more Yuan class submarines by 2025.

China has announced a 6.8 percent growth in its defense budget for next financial year, representing a slight increase from last year’s percentage increase of 6.6 percent as it continues to modernize its military. China will officially spend 1.35 trillion yuan (U.S. $208.58 billion) on its military in 2021, according to figures released by China’s Finance Ministry as the country’s leadership convenes for its annual meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing.

China’s recently commissioned three Type 055 Renhai-class cruisers. Two will be stationed in the South China Sea.

The Type 055 warships are the PLA Navy’s premier surface combatant, each boasting 128 vertical launching system cells capable of firing surface-to-air, anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles. They are also fitted with 3D phased array radar as well as an extensive sensor and electronic warfare suite.

China is building at least eight of these 10,000-ton surface combatants at two different shipyards, along with its third aircraft carrier and three new amphibious helicopter carriers, two of which are undergoing sea trials including a visit to the naval base at Sanya. This indicates that at least one amphibious helicopter carrier may be assigned there when it is commissioned into the PLA Navy.

China added the Type 075 (Yushen-class) amphibious helicopter carrier Hainan, the Type 055 (Renhai-class) guided-missile cruiser Dalian and the Type 094 (Jin-class) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine Changzheng-18.

The Renhai cruiser displaces more than 12,000 tons. The U.S. Navy’s Ticonderoga (CG-47) class cruisers and Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class destroyers (aka the U.S. Navy’s Aegis cruisers and destroyers) displace about 10,100 tons and 9,300 tons.

The Hainan is the lead ship of a new class of amphibious assault ships being built for the PLAN as it continues to boost its naval capabilities. The helicopter carriers, which are estimated to displace between 35,000 to 40,000 tons, have an uninterrupted flight deck with seven deck spots for large transport helicopter operations, and a well dock for launching conventional or air-cushioned landing craft for amphibious landing operations.

SOURCES- DOD, Defense News, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities
Written By Brian Wang,