Is Beijing Preparing for Antisubmarine Warfare in the South China Sea?

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Beijing would be preparing a new air unit that could be crucial in the antisubmarine war in the South China Sea, according to an article by National Interest (NI).

According to Lyle Goldstein, author of the text , the media has paid much attention to the “brilliant new military toys of China,” such as the anti-ship ballistic missile DF-26, the J-20 fighter program, and the new carrier of the country. There have even been rumors that the Asian country would launch a stealth bomber. The author of the article considered, however, that although these issues are important, China has “less eye-catching tools” that could also have a “great impact on the global strategic balance”.

For Goldstein, the submarine domain is a key point in the emerging rivalry between the United States and China in the Western Pacific. Therefore, it is important that American strategists take note of the creation of a new operational unit of the Chinese Navy in which will fly the first long-range maritime patrol aircraft of the naval service of the country, optimized for the antisubmarine war, the GX -6.

The columnist quoted an article in the Chinese media Ordnance Science and Technology that talks about the deployment in the South China Sea Fleet of a unit composed of several GX-6 antisubmarine aircraft, at the beginning of 2018.

The Chinese article considers that the GX-6 will be quite appropriate for the marine areas of eastern and southern China and will also be able to “provide escort and early warning to the naval forces deployed for exercises in the Western Pacific”. The possibility of basing these aircraft in the South China Sea is mentioned quite explicitly. The analysis also points out that this would allow the Chinese Navy to track foreign submersibles and remove their potential for a surprise attack. The GX-6 could also provide security to China’s strategic submarines.

Is Beijing Preparing for Antisubmarine Warfare in the South China Sea?

The NI columnist considered that the combination of the GX-6 with the other emerging antisubmarine capabilities in China will make US submersible ships find “a better equipped rival in the Western Pacific.”

“American submariners may have become accustomed over the last decade to operating with a high degree of freedom, almost unopposed, but this situation is changing rapidly now,” Goldstein wrote.

The author considered that the situation is “particularly worrying” in the context of a probable Chinese air superiority in the region in the early stages of a conflict. Although he considered the US P-8 antisubmarine aircraft superior, Goldstein stressed that these aircraft would have difficulty flying in a sky “full of Chinese fighters.”

“In this way, Chinese air power may be beginning to affect the previously unchallenged advantage of the US in underwater warfare,” Goldstein said.

In early October, China called on the United States to end the provocative actions of its Navy in the South China Sea. On that occasion, Hua Chunying, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Asian country, demanded that the US correct their errors and cease provocations to “avoid damage to bilateral relations, peace and stability in the region.”

 

Source: Sputnik News