Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

The dissipation of the Pax Americana

Posted by Charles II on April 24, 2013

Reuters, in The Guardian:

China will build a second, larger aircraft carrier capable of carrying more fighter jets, the official Xinhua news service has reported, quoting a senior officer with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.

China is also building up other forms of military hardware, including a stealth fighter jet believed to be capable of landing on a carrier, drone aircraft and nuclear submarines.

China is alone among the original nuclear weapons states to be expanding its nuclear forces, according to a report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Japan will respond, I suspect, by amending its peace constitution to repeal Article 9 which is the basis for restricting its spending on military to 1% of GDP.

Japan is also, in my opinion, engaging in a trade war with China by devaluing the yen. Of course, China may be engaging in proxy war using North Korea. Both sides are unwise to escalate tensions. They would do better to work to ensure adequate petroleum supplies to the region and not worry so much about which economy gets the proceeds.

5 Responses to “The dissipation of the Pax Americana”

  1. Stormcrow said

    It’s a very dangerous thing to enter a high-cost area of military technology which is also headed for technological turbulence and consequent fast obsolescence.

    A minor example is rifle technology, in the second half of the nineteenth. Percussion cap fired musket, percussion cap fired minie ball rifle, Dreyse rifle, chassepot rifle, Martini-Henry metallic cartridge rifle, the introduction of nitrocellulose based propellants, the magazine rifle. All within the span of just 50 years, and each advance obsoleting everything that came before.

    if you were a nation-state government, you had to buy batches of hundreds of thousands of brand new shoulder arms, every five to ten years! Whether you had the industrial base for it or not.

    What happened to the hapless Austrian army at Königgrätz is an example of what you risk when you don’t upgrade.

    By the time the Chinese Navy learns carrier deck operations (which will not happen quickly), the carrier as we know it will be headed either for scrapyards or for rapid conversion.

    Drones make a hell of a lot more sense than piloted aircraft do as a means to project air power from warships. Right now, that technology is still in diapers. It’ll be much more mature in 20 years.

    And the carriers that China is investing such wealth and pride in today, will be useless.

    • Charles II said

      Every weapon has its place, Stormcrow. Drones will not carry troops and they’re not going to blow up ships that do carry troops.

      Interesting about breech-load vs. muzzle load, though.

      • Stormcrow said

        Drones will not carry troops and they’re not going to blow up ships that do carry troops.

        I disagree with the second clause.

        I think that in 20 years, drones will be doing everything piloted warplanes do today, with the possible exceptions of heavy cargo transport, troop transport, and nuclear bomber.

        The utility of human piloted aircraft in the last role is due entirely to the fact that a human crew are liable to obey a verifiable “stand-down” order with enthusiasm a computer would lack; it’d mean they’d still have homes to return to.

      • Charles II said

        You may be right. My perception is based on the fact that drones at present are small (carrying limited munitions) and relatively slow. This allows them to be unseen and to stay aloft for extended periods. If a fuel source is found that would enable them to be fast and to stay aloft, that could change. But short of using a nuclear energy source, I don’t think this will happen.

        At present, aircraft are fast and able to stay aloft for extended periods with moderate amounts of munitions. This means they can strike quickly and powerfully, but are also much more visible than drones. A missile, especially a cruise missile, is an example of a drone with the range and firepower of aircraft (but lesser speed), so in a sense, drones already have displaced some aircraft functions.

        I suppose that if one could deliver munitions with extremely high precision, such as targeting welding seams or some other weakness on a ship, the firepower issue could be resolved. Or if countries decide that using nuclear weapons is acceptable, then the firepower issue on drones is solved.

        One could also use unmanned aircraft as drones. The problem is that either they have to be so sophisticated as to require no remote control or they are susceptible to signal jamming.

        At least at present, ships have the capability of shooting down or jamming anything relying on remote control or primitive sensors or not traveling at very high speed. They can, of course, be overwhelmed. I tend to think defensive technology will stay ahead of offensive technology. But I may be wrong.

  2. Off topic, but thanks to RSS feeds, I saw your attempt at putting the weather into a post. I appreciate the effort but I’ll keep coming here every day, weather or no weather.

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