LONG POST WARNING - de central-austere ops vs. China in war

Discuss air warfare, doctrine, air forces, historic campaigns, etc.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline
User avatar

PhillyGuy

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 637
  • Joined: 29 Sep 2006, 03:07

Unread post05 Feb 2017, 06:41

I was adding to my mapped collection of major US air and naval forces in the Pacific, as well as those of our treaty allies, territories and friendly nations. And as I did I realized slowly just how difficult it is currently, and will be in the future, for the Chinese to take on the US and our allied forces in a full scale, full regional war.

Most people, when they engage in a general discussion about this subject and the possible nature of Chinese attack and conflict, tend to just list and focus or take under consideration only the few major bases that US forces OFFICIALLY operate out of.
But this is actually a very very simple minded and foolish and unrealistic approach because to limit ourselves either conceptually or operationally to that view and understanding of the battlefield is to greatly handicap ourselves and what our forces and our allies can actually achieve or is possible to achieve.

This notion that our treaty allies who will themselves come under Chinese attack, would not work with the US to do everything possible and unite as one, and not distinguish between attacks on US bases as not being attacks on them, and instead to respond with us jointly as we help each other utilize all of the available infrastructure and join assets at our disposable to counter and attack China back, is false, in terms of how the battle space and order of battle and diplomacy and politics truly exists or will exist once ordinance is exchanged.

Image

To illustrate, I have included in my Google Earth map only true air force and naval bases already in use, and then retired/dormant bases that are still in good shape and usable, and also finally the largest civilian air and naval ports that could be used/operated out of in case of a conflict/emergency in the region.

And given the threat, again, they WILL HAVE to be used as alternative airbases, airfields, ground staging areas, helicopter fields and naval ports/bases for all kinds of military aircraft, naval ships and SAM/anti ship batteries/troops.

I was shocked by the number of such combined bases/sites from the four major countries, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, as well as US territories in Guam/Micronesia etc...

In the picture above, you can see the blue plane icons and red ship icons that denote air bases/air ports and or naval bases/naval ports. Again, I have not mapped every single civilian or military air/naval port in the relevant countries as the numbers would be in the thousands! Literally in the thousands.

So as I said, I have focused only on the major bases and or sites--in terms of those that are largest in capacity and more modern in construction. Therefore what you see mapped above represents sites that are in my estimation the MOST dual capable and also MOST strategically located should it come to a shooting war with China, and should they be needed/commandeered by US and allied forces in a pinch, either by design or accident.

Already the number of such sites exceeds 250!!! 250!!!

I could not believe the density and availability of dual air and naval sites in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and ESPECIALLY the Philippines.

Largest red circle is centered on Taiwan Strait and is 2000 miles in radius, inner second largest red circle is centered also above the Taiwan Strait and is 1000 miles in radius. The concentric smaller red circles are couples of E-2D aircraft and SM-6 capable ships. Yellow circles represent carrier strikes/air reach out to 800 miles in radius, and the green are amphibious flat tops with F-35Bs that I have given an air reach of 550 miles. You can see how these systems, when placed right and if able to operate in those areas, can effectively shut down the Chinese near space and keep them from flying or sailing outside of their land borders, much less being able to sanitize the first island chain and or break out into the open Pacific.

I was never a fan of the distributed/austere operations concept because it seemed too chaotic and not ideal. But one realizes very quickly, that in such close proximity to China, that sort of capability and operation concept will be absolutely necessary. At least initially, when the Chinese can still amass forces beyond their shores and launch air or naval raids against US and allied bases in the region, in COMBINATION with ballistic and cruise missile strike waves.

If we and our allies only limit ourselves to our few and traditional bases for our aircraft and ships to operate from, they are well known, fixed and much much smaller in number and therefore will be easily attacked and either destroyed entirely or damaged enough to take them out of use for a few days or weeks. We would be at a severe disadvantage having large concentrations of assets in a few locations, spread out and isolated, while the Chinese would have the FULL use of every single airport and naval port on their mainland to operate out of.

By having the ability to fly very capable but smaller and expeditionary type air/naval groups that can quickly mobilize, fly to rarely used and non built up location and bring/have everything with them that they need to quickly set up and start fighting from/with, we can make it very very hard for the Chinese to counter our forces or destroy them enough to ever have free reign in their near space.

For one China does not have the force or the capability and even the individual tens of thousands or even thousands and thousands of ballistic and cruise missiles required to strike every single possible dual use site in one go. They have to pick and choose and just focus on the actual military bases first, before worrying about secondary civilian sites that may be used instead.

Now I know what US commanders mean when they say we will stretch the battlefield and not allow the Chinese to overwhelm us in any one local region or area, but force them to fight us everywhere at once. But they will have a very difficult time adjusting/commanding/coordinating in real time with the right reconnaissance and intelligence needed to re target and re launch aircraft, missiles and ships to strike a new site that may pop up, while simultaneously defending themselves from our counter strikes, which they have to react to.

The F-35B would be so very useful as it can be used from so many many locations that are more austere and less developed than other aircraft can use. I honestly think it would be perfect for the Pacific and it is a shame we are not getting more for the Marine Corps and even our allied air forces. What is still required though is a way to have packaged, scalable, highly mobile, highly alert, self contained, self sufficient and self sustained composite air and naval groups that can be disbursed, remain networked and efficiently commanded and utilized.

This is a must. Without a mastered and actual way to deploy everything from the necessary fuel, munitions, spares, electronics, people, equipment and mobile facilities to large and small, austere and developed locations/sites alike, it is just fantasy. I am thinking of a way to deploy a expeditionary air group in size from a 6 tactical, 6 support and 6 intelligence/electronic aircraft that carry and bring with them everything they need, to larger formations for bigger locations of 12, tactical, 12 support, 12 ISR etc... what types depends on the mission, threat, location of austere/dual use site and how well suited and or capable it is of hosting whatever we deploy.

Smaller airports/airstrips and air fields can host F-35Bs, A-10s, C-130s, KC-130s, helicopters, even C-17s maybe, and larger secondary sites can host F-22s, F-15s, F-35As, AWACS, C-17s, KC-135s. Then there are drone and UCAV operations and how that can be expeditionary in nature when the usual sites are offline. But Imagine the Chinese hitting the usual bases, and we're still flying at them and they have no idea where and when next, and then by time they may get a fix, we have repaired and or moved back to previous bases they thought were offline.

It would be a nightmare, and still having to keep track of, attack, and stop our naval ships, subs and aircraft that are of course mobile and not subject to fixed locations or known areas etc... If we can be vigilant, mobile, and have great posture and preparation and intelligence to never be taken completely by surprise, so that we always have carriers and amphibs and ships and aircraft on patrol, we will be better situation and capable initially to fend of their blitz and not get overwhelmed or pushed out for even a few hours, much less a few days.

And I have not mentioned the bombers flying from bases farther away in support of air and naval strikes. And I do not believe China will strike US territory proper like Hawaii, Alaska, Guam etc... unless it wants to risk nuclear escalation as the only way it can strike those places really is via ballistic missiles.

What do you guys think? I know I write a lot but this is fascinating and I love thinking about this and analyzing the possibilities. As within all the media hype, we tend to lose sight of the more complete picture, and it is not as dire as it seems for the US in Asia. China still has a LONG way to go and it's biggest weakness is geography and lack of alliances. Two factors not likely to change for them unless they go to war, so it is a catch 22.

Link
"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."
Offline

arian

Banned

  • Posts: 1293
  • Joined: 23 Dec 2014, 09:25

Unread post06 Feb 2017, 07:35

Add this to the mix


Return to Air Power

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest