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,

64 thoughts on “China’s Navy Outnumbers US Navy”

  1. Taiwan has only ~23M people – quite a trade-off, if China guesses wrong about Taiwan bluffing.

    However, China has apparently stated that it would treat such an attack as worthy of nuclear retaliation, so we'd better hope the Taiwanese make it clear the attack is coming from them, not the US!

    Hmm – and would they have any incentive to do so, if the US had abandoned them? Not a pretty scenario, all around.

    400M dead sounds high – there are about 400M who might be in the direct path of the flood – but estimates I've seen were more like 50M – 100M dead, and even that might be exaggerated, as it assumes all 400M get hit with something like a tidal wave.

    If the (weaker) top of the 3G dam were taken out while it is full, that'd be bad, but not as catastrophic as all the water getting released. Putting a big crater or series of smaller ones at the end of the dam might be enough to let the lake erode its way out in short order, possibly destroying the dam in the process by undermining it. But I'm speculating.

  2. I kind of wondered at the time if threatening India was a move to give China something to offer in return for India not interfering with their oil shipments. "We'll back off from your border if you'll agree not to block our oil shipments."

  3. Maybe we shouldn't get involved, but it is definitely wrong to say it has nothing to do with us. Setting aside explicit or implied commitments to help Taiwan, a lot of important semiconductor chips and other high tech products imported by the US are made in Taiwan. China attacking Taiwan would either destroy that capability or put it in Chinese hands – neither good for the US.

    If we're going to be cynical enough to abandon Taiwan, we should at least make sure to be smart enough to have the manufacturing capabilities to replace it before doing so. E.g. give Taiwanese companies more incentives to build plants within the US, and encourage Taiwanese executives establish second homes in the US.

    I was also hoping we'd have til 2030, but the CCP appears to be panicking over something (maybe the indications that their demographic decline is already starting, 10 years sooner than predicted?), making lots of moves to solidify their internal and external security.

  4. I imagine that having a reactor sink to the sea bed and slowly poison the surrounding 1000 sq. km is a lot less disruptive to the rest of the world when it happens in the Kara sea compared to the South China Sea.

  5. Especially when you add a nuclear reactor.
    This isn't a purchase. It's a commitment.

  6. Taiwan wouldn't need nuclear subs. They're mainly for making super long voyages. Taiwan doesn't need to patrol the whole globe, just its own coastline ad maybe project out a few hundred miles.
    Diesel-electric works fine.
    Also, never models of D/E subs can stay under for a very long time.

  7. Last summer when it looked like the 3GD was about to collapse, several people did estimates on the projected human cost.
    As many as 400 million people would die. That's a staggering number.

    Also, these people live in their most industrious sector. China might never recover from that.

  8. And since they torqued off India last year, they now have an enemy where half of their coastline equates to the path the Chinese oil tankers need to sail before they get to China. Even a small Indian Navy could intercept Chinese oil tankers and take their oil. There's really nothing China could do about it other than complain.

    China needs a blue water navy to maintain its oil supply.
    China needs an oil supply to maintain a blue water navy.
    This dog will not hunt.

  9. China has more boats.
    The USA has more ships.
    Also a frigate doesn't compare to a destroyer.

  10. This.
    The US Navy uses the supercarrier as the workhorse for global power projection. Given how long they've been in service and how many sailors are on board, we have several hundred thousand man-years of corporate experience in using them. This can't be duplicated overnight.

    Even if China copies our ways, it won't work. There are some fundamental assumptions the USA Navy uses that simply don't apply to China. Like the availability of diesel fuel to operate all the support ships. Take away the support and the Chinese supercarrier becomes an easy target.

    It's hard to envision another country with the ability to project carrier groups around the world like the USA does. I'm not sure any other country will ever be able to do it.

  11. Throughout history, the number of empires and even civilisations that were destroyed by not being strong enough to fight off an invasion is orders of magnitude larger than those destroyed by environmental collapse.

  12. That's a good point. I guess that could work (at least to the point where I am not knowledgeable enough about the subject to spot any problem).

  13. What a waste of money that could be spent adapting to climate change. Instead military powers are going down "The 100" path.

  14. The problem in invading Taiwan is not making a beachhead, it's keeping it. Taiwan will make the Chinese bleed for every kilometer even if someone doesn't come to their rescue.

  15. One of the things that crippled the USSR was maintaining its fleet. China is cranking them out like no tomorrow and these ships are soon due. Maintaining the fleet is more difficult than building them.

  16. My understanding is that the US has got a lot of its civilian nuclear power workers from the nuclear navy. Taiwan has a few nuclear reactors for power production. Why should recruiting in the other direction be a problem?

  17. Just because a Marine Corp commandant tweets that his top priority is to do X, doesn't mean that his top priority is to do X.

    It means that he wants twitter readers to think that.

    So there is still hope. Not much. But some.

  18. The USA doesn't make any non nuke subs AFAIK. So that makes life difficult for this plan. You'd have to buy them from… Japan maybe?

    I would guess that the reason to supply Taiwan with non-nuke subs is that running nukes requires a whole lot of nuclear trained technicians and officers… which Taiwan doesn't have.

  19. The 'internet' tends not to forget anything though. 

    The comment section of this blog had a near death experience recently, it's usually not that lucky.

  20. Not physically, not today. The 'internet' tends not to forget anything though.  Whether we legislate that it should, or not. 

    My dear Old Pa lived through this nation's most extreme ideological purge, the McCarthy Era and its never-capitalized Purity-of-Thought Inquisitions. They were real, evil and destructive. Old Joe McCarthy and his goons didn't have the InstaNet available to go sifting through people's recorded opinions, statements, discussions and Tweets. Had he, there'd have been Gulag styled labor camps for a huge swath of what now styles itself as the Left-of-Lıberal Democratic Party.

    Someting to remember. 

    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

    PS as to whether I'm being overly melodramatic, I see your point. Thing is, I've been watching the 'wind sock' of our country's independence, its self-sufficiency, its ideological plurality and its covenant-keeping with its citizens to preserve individual, commercial, religious and industrial production 'freedom'. The wind sock has gone limp. And that is both as factual and melodramatic as I wish to commit to at this time.

    Be wary.
    That's all I can recommend.

  21. Sure.  

    But not so quickly the ball – bearing mills.  Those darn little spheres are harder to produce than what one might imagine on the surface. Not that the industry has 'forgotten', no.  It is just that we don't make ANY bearing balls at all, and it'd be quite a thing to kick-start that again. 

    Then, once 'the war' of attrition is over with China, what happens to the billions invested in the crash-development program? 

    For decades 'our' bearing-ball making mills will be economically at a disadvantage.  Labor costs, lack of 'free until it breaks' ancient equipment, raw materials costs.  

    Which brings up, where the heck is the steel going to come from in that economic-industrial-military war?  

    We don't actually smelt iron any more. 
    Or much copper. 
    Or much of any ore-to-metal production.  
    That's a REALLY big nut to crack.  

    And then there is America's nearly complete dependence on foreign sourcing for just about EVERY component in a computer, smart phone, TV; even our electricity is almost completely breakered-and-switched by foreign-made components.  

    Try to build those industries again! Wow.

    I'm telling you: we are as toothless as step-grandfather-in-law Grumpus living in a makeshift room in my garage.  Plenty of bravado, no teeth. If Grumpus gets too grumpy, I can stop feeding him and providing toilet paper.  Same for the US methinks, RE: China. Same as.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  22. I think the single biggest deterrent to invasion would be the capability of Taiwanese kinetic weapons or hypersonic missiles (non-nuclear), against, say, the Three Rivers Gorge dam, or one of the other dams near it (there is some speculation that destroying even one could cause a domino effect). It's a good bet Taiwan already has such weapons, based on their early interest in these types of systems.

    Such a catastrophe (and assuming the dam doesn't fall down on its own–there are reasons why it might) would pretty much wreck everything along a thousand miles of the Yangtze river, all the way to Singapore, potentially destroying half of China's industrial capability and leaving ten percent of its most valuable workers and their families, homeless or dead. This would likely include the near total destruction of Shanghai. 

    Assuming it's a credible threat, would the mainland Chinese gov't believe it to be a bluff, and that the leadership in Taiwan would lack the will to put a large percentage of the world's population back into the stone age? Would they be right? Now there's a question.

  23. Why specifically non-nuclear subs? Just because nuclear is only really an advantage for staying under a *long* time, or some other reason?

  24. I like your idea. But what would happen if the USA would deliver nuclear missiles to Taiwan? Would it not trigger a situation like the "Cuba crisis" only with China doing the blockading and USA trying to get through?

    I bet there are gazillions of chinese spies in Taiwan, so it would be difficult to make any sort of secret program to build missile sites. I.e. China could block any missile transport to Taiwan well in advance of the delivery.

  25. GoatGuy, you are being uncharacteristically melodramatic. Are you OK? And do you seriously believe that Brett can be physically attacked for being against China?

  26. Yes, you might be right. So really, the USA should sell them a boatload of missiles and non-nuclear subs. Say, 50 subs and 10 000 missiles. Just to make it difficult to invade.

  27. I too, even the likes of Iran etc. But, developing the nukes themselves is a requirement. No one will treat a purchasing country of nukes as an independent agent in the event of an exchange, the seller and his distant friends should prepare for incoming.

    When it comes to nukes, why not take all your antagonists with you if you're going out.

  28. Wishful thinking. The country more likely to collapse would be the US, with it's own demographic time bomb of garbage-tier human capital coming in by the millions each year.

    In 20 years it may very well look closer to Mexico or Brazil than to any European cousin it once shared culture with. Meanwhile, the worst case scenario for China is…. Japan. How horrid!

    Would much rather be Japan than Brazil.

  29. One should further note that in a nano-era, where everyone has their own nano-manufacturing systems, the nation-state system may disintegrate; hence, whatever geo-political forces has the Russians and Chinese trying to design weapons against the U.S. may disappear in a puff of smoke. Likewise for the U.S. as well.

    This will present problems of not being able to police everyone; but, it will probably evaporate the current geopolitics.

  30. I forgot to mention that, recently, there's been protein folding guys who have built molecular scale motors, and the DNA-nanotech side remarkably keeps pace. They made a software that allows them to design and build molecular machines in minutes(instead of days or weeks previously). I'm pretty confident we'll have nano-manufacturing long before 2040.

  31. Well, I just had a Seawolf U.S. military sub video pop up on my youtube recommendations. It said more about the Seawolf than I'd ever imagine would be revealed. I wasn't trying to find out about it. I still won't say what it said, or link here. I'll just say, "the majority of those Chinese and Russian subs are louder than U.S. subs." But, the point I really want to stress is that the Western countries are likely to get to nanotech and quantum computing first.

    If we do get to nano-manufacturing first, we win. We'll be able to produce far more advanced technology, and outnumber them. But, like the Japanese and Norwegians that gave some technology to the Russians in the 80s which allowed them to catch up, and Obama who gave Putin electric scanning radar technology and a lot of other technology, which allowed them to catch up again, someone will share with them the secrets!

  32. Looks like they should be ready to take Taiwan in the 2030s, though I wonder if they will wait that long. The US obviously should not get involved, as it has nothing to do with us.

    Meanwhile a while ago I saw the Marine Corp commandant tweeting about how his top priority is to improve benefits for "pregnant Marines". The US military and elite more generally is simply lacking the mental seriousness needed to maintain superpower status for much longer.

  33. Brett, please consider removing this, yours and the thread's comments. Eventually there are crucifixes that'll be erected to torment and kill the apostates.

    Just Saying
    And I Mean It.

  34. Still, countries like Taiwan (It is a country) can defend themselves against China by having enough naval missiles and torpedoes to launch against China invading navy, being able to hide and protect these missiles and their launchers deeply fortified and underground, and in stealthy submarines protected by overwhelming amount of air and missile defense. Building these missiles stealthy and protecting them electronically will also be needed. Taiwan, Japan and S. Korea with the help of the US have enough tech, definitely combined, to stand up to the task.

  35. Yes, they were remarkably canny about inserting themselves into every supply chain, and buying all the right politicians. I thought up until last November we *might* have a shot at disentangling ourselves from them, but their puppets are firmly back in charge.

    When, not if, China collapses, (The demographic bomb makes it look inevitable to me.) they're taking a good deal of the world economy down with them.

    Followed, I hope, by their bought and paid for politicians being sent to join them.

  36. I knew that would get a down vote.
    Seriously … think about it though.
    China has the WORLD by the Bâhlls
    … when it comes to manufacturing of all the little-stuff
    … which without the world wouldn't work, at all.  

    Ball bearings, the bâhlls. Those kind of bâhlls.  
    Ball mills, for crushing stuff to atomically fine powders.
    The powders which then go on to power the 3D metal-fab machines
    The powders which are in 100% of all cosmetics.
    The powders which are compressed into pills, tablets, lozenges. 
    The powders which are compressed into pinions, joints, flanges, miters
    The powders which become ceramic glazes, paint pigments, pretty things
    The powders which fill tooth-pastes with micro-abrasives
    The powders which combine in refineries with oils to make petrol and gasoline
    The powders which fill one's zeolite water softeners

    Need I really go on?
    100% of those powders are made by machines made 100% in China.

    Just try to wage any meaningful 'war' with an adversary
    Which has your total supply of industrially important stuff

    Just try.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  37. Right, which is why I long advocated that we just very publicly give Taiwan some ICBMs with city busting nukes, and walk away.

    Nobody would believe we'd launch on China in the event they attacked Taiwan, but people would easily believe Taiwan would.

  38. Despite decades of bluster, very few Americans are actually willing to die by getting involved in any resolution between the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China.

    The whole melodrama makes for a good detraction and helps put some lead in the pencil of a certain segment of the gerontocracy.

  39. No, I don't think so. … Intellectually, the Chinese are, rather unsurprisingly, JUST as capable as any other sovereign; in many ways, their much higher standards of education (at least amongst the upper-middle-class and apparatchiks of the Communist Revolutionary Party) favors them inventing all nature of independent and both defensive and offensive buttressing technologies all on their own.

    I wouldn't want to trifle with China, at this point.
    Indeed: tho' it is likely to get some stern remonstrations …
    I don't think the US is in the position to be waging anything against China

    Offensive, defensive, politically or intellectually.


  40. Tonnage doesn't really much matter if 80% of it isn't IN-Theatre at a time of a surprise conflict. Does it?

  41. See reply to Kurt.

    I think that China very likely has WAY higher numbers of Taiwan Straits capable missiles than she lets on to have. Its not like there's an international treaty requiring sovereigns to keep feeding the international order of beancounters with accurate offensive data.

    After all, remembering the African saying, bandied about by one of our better presidents, "Speak softly and carry a BIG stick". Or many sticks. Don't talk about how many sticks.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  42. Sadly, yes. China learned from Hitler, but not what we might have hoped.

    Really, Taiwan's only hope is that the Chicoms collapse before the invasion.

  43. The PRC-N could invade Taiwan in 3 days, and President Harris would do excatly nothing about it. Wouldn't do as much as send a bunch of USN carriers and destroyers to the China Sea. 

    In fact, the USN would just scurry off, to ensure Philippines wouldn't be invaded. Which of course they wouldn't whether the USN was there or not.  But it'd make good Mainstream Media newschatter. 

    PRC-N in fact could do that while simultaneously forcibly ejecting the USN from the Sount China Sea. Sovereignty claim, at the UN, and be done with it. Strafe any unlikely hero USN ships with S₂S missiles. No, not bullets. No warning, no nothing.  STAY AWAY.  Diplomatic channels would make the position concrete.  KEEP out.  Ours. Now go fûque yourselves with our inflatable prostitutes.  

    Truth is even more disappointing: there isn't one supplier to China (see your list above!) that'd squeak. Nope, oil ticks know full well where their funds come from. China. Big huge buckets of funds. Frigates of cheddar.  

    The Europeans, enormously sensitive to any developing super-power conflict that'd eventually embroil them, would be wailing, beating their chests, being quite pro-China. In spite of the power grab. Divine right, as outlined 800 years go during the Chang Dynasty, and all that.  

    What China wants, China can get. 
    Any time they press the GO button.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  44. It might have been the Germans that proved a firm commitment to injustice and racism in society improves the martial prowess of any fighting force.

  45. I assume that their military is not "woke" like ours is becoming. If so, this will increase the force differential in their favor.

  46. we'll have nano-manufacturing and quantum computers long before then. Of course, so will they; but, then again, so will everyone else; bottom line, everyone from the U.S. to Sri Lanka will have nanotech/quantum computing militaries so advanced, nobody can really fight anybody.

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