The Chinese Navy will have received 8 new destroyers in 2021 alone

As we know, the Chinese military naval industry has been extremely successful for several years. Thus, from 2017 to 2020, it had enabled the Chinese Navy to accept no less than 21 destroyers in active service, i.e. 3 times more ships of this type than those entered into service with the US Navy, the South Korean Navy, the Royal Australian Navy and the Japanese Naval Self-Defense Forces over the same period. Far from slowing down, it sets a new record in 2021 with no less than 8 destroyers delivered to the Naval Forces of the People's Liberation Army, or more exactly, 3 Type 055 cruisers and 5 anti-aircraft destroyers Type 052DL, two classes of ship having absolutely nothing to envy to the most powerful Western naval units. This is the largest number of destroyers ever delivered in a single year in the past 50 years, the previous record being in 1994 when the US Navy simultaneously saw 6 Arleigh Burke class destroyers.

The more than sustained pace of Chinese shipyards does not seem destined to decrease in the months and years to come. Thus, according to Chinese media, a new order for 8 Type 055 cruisers and 16 Type 056DL destroyers would have been notified at the end of the year to the country's shipyards, so as to maintain the pace of current deliveries. In addition, a new batch of Type 054A frigates was also ordered last year, and deliveries started this year, while 20 Type 056 corvettes in service with the Chinese navy were transferred to the coast guards at the end of the year, so as to free the crews to arm the new ocean going vessels under construction.

The Type 052DL anti-aircraft destroyers have an elongated helicopter hangar to accommodate the new Z-20 naval helicopter and a new low frequency aerial surveillance radar designed to detect stealth aircraft

If this rate is maintained until 2026, and there is no reason to believe that this will not be the case, the Chinese Navy will then have, in terms of combatant surface ships, 16 Type 055 cruisers, of 42 Type 052 anti-aircraft destroyers of all types, including 24 Type 052DL in extended version, and 50 fRegattas Type 054A, or a naval force substantially equivalent to that available to the US Navy and its Australian, New Zealand, Japanese and South Korean allies in the Pacific. Equivalence of force will also be achieved, or close to being, in the field of amphibious ships. The Western naval forces will have little more than their submarine and naval air fleet to keep the ascendancy over the Chinese Navy, even though the latter did not represent 1 / 5th of the forces of these same allies in 2000.

Beyond the unparalleled industrial capacities that Beijing has at its disposal, we see, and the episode of the transfer of the Type 056 corvettes is there to demonstrate it, that the expansion of the Chinese Navy begins to come up against other factors, in particular to that of human resources. With "only" 225.000 men and women in its ranks, against 350.000 for the US Navy, the Chinese Navy will now quickly reach a glass ceiling in terms of format, not expandable except by increasing the numbers themselves. , which, for the time being, does not seem relevant to the Chinese authorities, or by drastically increasing the automation within ships so as to reduce the size of the crews. Thus, a Type 052D destroyer still relies on a crew of 270 sailors, where a FREMM frigate of the same tonnage only requires 130. In addition, the extreme speed with which new units are produced, armed with new ones. systems and crews, lets hover, especially for Pentagon experts, a certain doubt as to the real combat capacities which they have today, and which they will have during all the phase of rise in power.

The Type 054A anti-submarine warfare frigates are the backbone of the Chinese Navy's high seas anti-submarine warfare. It will have more than 50 of these ships by 2027.

The fact remains that, in this area, the Chinese Navy has shown, in recent years, significant capacities for adaptation, progress and coordination, with in particular statistics of incidents at sea comparable to those of very experienced navies such as the French Navy. 'US Navy or Royal Navy, and very intense exercise activity, most often accompanied by live ammunition fire. In addition, it was able very quickly to take into account the constraints linked to the use of its aircraft carriers but also of its new assault ships, by adapting the training of its crews and personnel, with remarkable efficiency. It therefore seems reasonable not to overestimate this criterion in the comparative assessment of the effective military power of the Chinese Navy, present and in the making, especially since everything suggests that it is still far from having reached the level of the Chinese Navy. all of its objectives, both in terms of format and efficiency.

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