Faced with the Chinese navy, the US Navy aims for the asymmetrical balance of power in the Pacific

A few days ago, the shipyards in Dalian, in the northeast of the country in Liaoning province, simultaneously launched 2 new Type 052D destroyers, the 27th and 28th units of this class designated within NATO under the code Luyang III, while 5 other hulls were observed at various levels of finish on this site. As in previous years, there is little doubt that the year 2023 will see the arrival of 7 to 9 new destroyers within the Navy of the People's Liberation Army. 157 meters long for a displacement of 7.500 tons, these ships are both modern and very well armed, with 64 vertical silos accommodating HHQ-9 long-range surface-to-air missiles, YJ-18 cruise missiles and CY-5 anti-submarines, as well as a 130 mm gun, and two self-protection systems CIWS HQ-10 (equivalent to the American Ram) and Type 1130 (equivalent to the Phalanx). If they are less well equipped and armed than the destroyers Arleigh Burke Flight IIa and Flight III being manufactured across the Atlantic, they are however produced more than 3 times faster. In fact, within 8 years, the Chinese fleet will field more large combatant surface units than the US Navy, and the gap will only widen beyond that.

To meet this major challenge, the US Navy has taken several measures to challenge the evolution of this balance of power as effectively as possible, by increasing the production of Arleigh Burke to 2,5 units per year, by having commanded around twenty Constellation-class heavy frigates, and above all created even closer ties with the allied navies of the Pacific zone, such as Japan, Australia, South Korea, as well as having convinced the Europeans to intensify their efforts and deployments in this theatre. But the most significant decision, to anticipate this balance of power, rests not only on the extension of the fleet of combatant surface units, a trajectory probably doomed to failure in view of the industrial, economic and demographic potential of Beijing , but by engaging in the construction of an asymmetrical naval balance of power with the Chinese navy. This refusal to respond to the Chinese tussle is reflected in the preparation of the US Navy's 2024 budget, which only provides for a budget of $187 million for the development of the DDG(x) program to go into production instead. Arliegh Burke Flight III destroyers in the middle of the next decade.

The two Type 052 launched earlier this week in Dalian are the 27th and 28th units of the class

To do this, Washington relies on 3 capabilities over which the US Navy maintains an advantage not only technological, but also numerical and operational. The first of them is still in its infancy, and will be based on the creation of a large fleet of autonomous surface ships and submarines, acting for the benefit of American surface ships and submarines to extend their performance, detection capabilities and firepower . For the time being, the development of these autonomous buildings remains in the experimental phase, and it is probable that the first truly operational units will not enter service until the end of this decade, or more probably at the beginning of the next. In the shorter term, and as shown by recent events with the announcements made earlier this week about the Aukus alliance, the American but also allied submarine fleet, is the subject of all the attention of the US Admiralty. Thus, the annual production of Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines will be increased to 3 ships per year, to reach a fleet of more than 60 ships by 2035, compared to 48 today. In this respect, for the development of the SSN(x) program, successor to the Sea Wolf from which it will take over the Hunter-Killer mission (submarine hunter), and the first Virginia series without VLS, the US Navy is asking $545 million over the 2024 budget year.

The rest of this article is for subscribers only -

The articles in full access are accessible in the section "Free Items". The Flash Articles are accessible in full version for 48 hours. Subscribers have access to the full Analysis, News and Synthesis articles. Articles in the Archives (more than 2 years old) are reserved for Premium subscribers.

The purchase of subscriptions is only accessible from the website - section Subscriptions and Tools

More information