Dragon vs.Bear

Discuss air warfare, doctrine, air forces, historic campaigns, etc.
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Unread post01 Nov 2016, 09:58

Most of the time we discuss scenarios involving Russia, or China vs. the West. What about a conflict between them? A seminal event of The Cold War was the Sino Soviet split. Over the last 200 years the two nations have had serious territorial disputes. Russian seized massive territory from China in the 19th century. Russia's war with Japan in 1904-05 was for control over Manchuria.

Stalin gave minimal support to Mao during the Civil War period because he preferred to deal with a weak Nationalist China, rather then a dynamic, resurgent Communist China that would seek redress. Recent scholarship using newly reveled Soviet archives show that Stalin sought to entangle China in a war with the United States over Korea to bind China to Russia. The Korean War postponed the Sino Soviet split for 10 years.

Though couched in the ideological guise of leadership of the World Communist Movement the Split involved serious border and nationalistic issues. They culminated in Division level border battles on the Amur River in 1969-70, and then the defection, and death of Mao's right hand man Lin Biao in 1971. These events lead to Mao's decision to turn toward the United States to balance the power of the Soviet Union.

Since then the Soviet Union collapsed, and China has risen to become the second biggest economy in the world. China is also advancing technologically past Russia in many areas. Russia is working against it's own interests by selling tech to China. Russia has sold to China the S-400, the SU-35, an aircraft carrier, advance conventional submarines, and destroyers armed with supersonic anti-ship missiles.

China now is deploying stealth fighters in the form of the J-20 and J-31, equipped with AESA radar with the best Russian designed engines, while Russia can't seem to develop the PAK/FA. How could the Russians hope to maintain air superiority on it's eastern frontier vs. a Chinese air force that is both bigger, and more advanced?

With China having over 9 times the population, and over 5 times the GDP how can Russia hope to defend it's extended thinly populated border areas? Million of Chinese are simply walking across the border, and are now economically dominating the region. At some point the Chinese may simply annex what they already posses.

So how would a conflict between China, and Russia play out? How would the J-20 fair against the PAK/FA? The J-10 vs. the MIG-35? The J-11 vs. the SU-30? A Sino Russian conflict would a bigger, more intense conflict then ether could have with the West, because these giant land powers have to live next to each other, while China and the United States are separated by the vast Pacific Ocean.
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Unread post01 Nov 2016, 10:33

Russia's insurance policy - - - NUKES. The richer China gets, the more they have to lose.
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
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Unread post01 Nov 2016, 11:04

The Russians can't afford to go to war with China.

There's a lot of reasons for that. One, Russia is ridiculously dependent on oil and gas for its wealth. No one can tell what oil prices are going to do, but the fracing revolution has put a lot more oil and gas out there in the world. Gas prices collapsed earlier this year, reaching lows that hadn't been seen in a decade. Saudi Arabia has decided to play for market share over profit. Now, there's millions more barrels of oil coming online as Iran and Iraq ramp up production. Hundred dollar a barrel oil is a ways off, if it ever returns. Without those kinds of prices, the Russians don't have the money to fund military expenditures.

Then there are sanctions. Russia was making a lot of money sending gas to the Europe. With their actions in Georgia and Ukraine, countries like Germany have started to rethink buying gas from Russia. Russia had priced gas so low to get that market that Germany started to cut back on renewables. Now, a lot of that work is in shambles. At the same time that Europe started to decide that Russian gas wasn't such a great deal, the U.S. passed laws to finally allow oil and gas exports again. The first train opened in Louisiana in the last year, with a second coming online in the next few months. American gas is cheap. Maybe not as cheap as Russian gas was priced, but cheap enough that countries can make a decision to go with American imports in order to avoid giving a strategic advantage to Russia.

Of course, China has stepped in to make Russia more dependent on the Chinese market. It's a nice bit of turnaround. China's economy is far more resilient than the Russian economy. So long as the Chinese don't antagonize the Western world to much, they'll still be in business. So far, that's what they've done. China has plenty of cheap enough labor, trained in putting together smartphones and similar technology, and they have a lot of rare earth metals, which are necessary for all the former. These are industries that are growing and aren't subject to the ridiculous swings of fortune that oil and gas encounter.

Look then at how they engage overseas. The Chinese use investments to expand their foreign power. Investments don't have to be called back in times of war. The Russians are still using military assets to expand power. If Russia went to war against China, all of that would collapse. They'd be pulling forces back from Syria and Ukraine in order to protect the homeland. This would cause Russia's foreign policy to collapse. Russia has a lot to lose on a global scale if they go to war with China. China would just keep doing what they do.

Russia might have a short term advantage in military hardware, in terms of quality and training, but once Russia doesn't have China to do business with, they wouldn't be able to replace military losses. In the long run, China comes out ahead. They'll still have plenty of income to replace all of those military assets, even if those assets are slightly inferior. The Russians will be burning into 'rainy day' funds and praying that oil and gas prices shoot up.

Of course, in the really long term, as you pointed out, the Chinese are just going to overwhelm the Russian border areas they want. It might not be tomorrow or next year or even a decade from now, but the Chinese don't have to win immediately.

As far as nukes, the Chinese have them, too. You only need so many to ruin the other guy's country. One nuke in Moscow would be pretty devastating to the Russians.

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