My friend and new colleague, Andrei Martyanov, is always worth reading, but his piece today regarding Russia and the Chinese Navy is must read and see. The United States is quite worried that China is going to provide Russia with weapons, but that misses the point. When it comes to advanced weaponry, Russia is the leader, not China. China’s Xi Jinping is not in Moscow with a catalogue of weapons he is ready to sell to Putin. Just the opposite — Russia has weapons that China needs it if is going to deter U.S. military action against Beijing.
The United States and Europe mistakenly believe that any bilateral relationship between China and Russia is lopsided in favor of China and that Russia has little to offer its behemoth of a neighbor to the south. The truth of the matter, as Andrei points out, is that China needs Russia as much, if not more, than Russia needs China. While Russia’s population is tiny compared to China, its technological sophistication, particularly on the military side of the equation, and its ample supplies of oil and gas makes it a large and vital country for the Chinese.
Andrei points out that China’s current hypersonic missile, the DF-21 ballistic anti-shipping missiles with their range declared as… 1,500 kilometers, would be of little use against a U.S. Carrier Battle Group parked 2,000 kilometers from China’s mainland. Moreover, the U.S. F -18 Hornets on those carriers are armed with the AGM-158 JASSM, would have an effective range of 2,600 kilometers. Andrei writes:
the air wing can launch a salvo of JASSMs BEYOND the range of the anti-CBG DF-21 missiles. Simple arithmetic: 950+700=1,650 km, or, in case of JASSM XR, 1,900 + 700 =2,600 km. But that is in case of the attack of the ground targets in the mainland China. JASSM, however, is also and even primarily so–anti-shipping missile. Yes, it is a typical American anti-shipping missile–subsonic and not particularly maneuverable. But… as you can count, JUST three US Navy CBGs you can immediately recognize that in their alpha-strikes, those three can have 48 x 3 = 144 strike aircraft simultaneously and each of those F-18s can carry… 4 JASSMs. Let’s not be primitive and imagine that some of those F-18s will have pure air-defense configuration. So, let’s say that we will have on average not 4 but 3 JASSM per F-18. Multiply: 144 x 3 = 432 JASSMs in the first salvo.
In short, China needs Russia’s hypersonic missiles.
Ditto for air defense systems.
A . . . Defense Department report shows that Chinese air defense systems present a substantial and growing threat to the U.S. and allies in the region. China operates Russian-built and indigenously (sic) produced systems capable of tracking and attacking enemy aircraft. The technological sophistication of these weapons systems, and the extent to which they can be upgraded, would naturally make it quite difficult for U.S. or allied countries to establish air supremacy over China in any kind of large-scale engagement.
The Defense Department published a report in 2021 titled Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China. The report explains that China’s air defenses consist of Russian-built S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air missiles. These Russian systems are reportedly among the best and most effective in the world. Also, it is possible to upgrade them. The most recently produced S-400 missiles and emerging Russian S-500 missiles are networked together. This is made possible by high-speed computer processing capable of precise, long-range threat detection. These weapons systems have much greater range and sensitivity than previous weapons systems. However, an ability to detect that an aircraft is “there” or “in the sky” does not mean that the air defense radar system can establish a continuous “track” and succeed in striking, engaging or destroying an aircraft.
Russia’s latest system, the S-500 Prometheus, “is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) . . . It is designed to counter aircraft and ballistic and cruise missiles, and reportedly can target low-orbit satellites.” It is no longer a program in development. It is now in production and, if shared with the Chinese, would represent a significant upgrade in China’s already robust air defenses.
The current Russia/Chinese summit in Moscow is going to produce a number of agreements. These have been in negotiation for more several months. China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, was in Moscow in February to put the final touches on these agreements. Besides an agreement of mutual defense and cooperation, I anticipate that Russia and China will sign a long term deal on oil and gas that will ensure China has a reliable supply for the foreseeable future.
But this is not a one-way street. China provides Russia with a key ally for creating a multi-polar and defeating the attempt by the United States and Europe to isolate and destroy Russia. China wields significant diplomatic clout among the so-called Third World nations and can use that influence to rally support for Russia at the UN and before other international bodies. The Chinese/Russian summit, if nothing else, delivers a death blow to the United States’ effort to isolate Russia and make it a pariah nation.