The way of war has changed. And tomorrow’s war is here already.
Larry Johnson and Andrei Martyanov
There are some writers online that you simply must read if you want to get a sense of what is happening geopolitically and militarily today.
Larry Johnson, the ex-CIA analyst is one.
Andrei Martyanov, a major source on the Russian military, is another.
Recently, Johnson published an article based on a Martyanov YouTube Video in which he talks about President Xi’s trip to Moscow and the possibility of military collaboration.
China really, really needs Russian hypersonic missiles and air defense systems opines Martyanov. War looms on the horizon for China— and without a little from its friends, it might not win.
Johnson quotes Andrei:
…the air wing can launch a salvo of JASSMs BEYOND the range of the anti-CBG DF-21 missiles. Simple arithmetic: 950+700=1,650 km, or, in case of JASSM XR, 1,900 + 700 =2,600 km. But that is in case of the attack of the ground targets in the mainland China. JASSM, however, is also and even primarily so–anti-shipping missile. Yes, it is a typical American anti-shipping missile–subsonic and not particularly maneuverable. But… as you can count, JUST three US Navy CBGs you can immediately recognize that in their alpha-strikes, those three can have 48 x 3 = 144 strike aircraft simultaneously and each of those F-18s can carry… 4 JASSMs. Let’s not be primitive and imagine that some of those F-18s will have pure air-defense configuration. So, let’s say that we will have on average not 4 but 3 JASSM per F-18. Multiply: 144 x 3 = 432 JASSMs in the first salvo.
That sounds pretty convincing. But would China really lose in such a scenario?
Did Martyanov get it wrong?
I don’t think the US Navy has that much of an advantage.
Martyanov is simply superb on Russian military matters—but not so much on the Chinese in this case.
I get the feeling his information is a little dated. In the assessment quoted by Larry, he would have been right just a few years ago. But not now. Things have changed.
To explain, let me do a bit of analysis. After all, this is why this newsletter is called “News Forensics.
Martyanov refers to the JASSM “XR”.
That is kind of giveway— for this is the old name for what is now called the JASSM “ER” (Extended Range) or AGM158 series— long-range versions of the originally rather short-legged JASSM of 2009 vintage, which had a range of just 370 km.
The US Navy version is the AGM158C LRASM (Long Range Anti-Ship Missile). At present, the Navy has about 200. Not, I think 432. Although Andrei might be including shorter range types. Or he might know something I don’t.
But even 400 is not nearly enough.
Three weeks of a war with China would expend or exceed all or nearly all of the U.S. military’s inventory of long-range standoff munitions, according to recent wargames by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Such long-range weapons include the U.S. Air Force’s more than 4,000 AGM-158 Joint-Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM) and about 200 U.S. Navy AGM-158C Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM).
Simply put, the US cannot fight China for longer than 3 weeks, and would do at considerable cost. If it cannot win in 3 weeks — it’s out of ammo.
Read between the lines of the US military report.
An invasion of Taiwan could be prevented— but at a terrible cost. The US would never be the same. It would be like Japan after the Battle of the Coral Sea where Japan had tactical victory but the US won a strategic victory. After that Japan was finished.
Andrei’s scenario assumes Chinese naval assets beyond the reach of their air defense systems, or somehow decimated by an initial salvo of over 400 missiles. That is unlikely.
When the US and its allies fired 118 missiles at Syria in 2018, it was at static targets. 71 were intercepted—and that with a Syria’s relatively modest air defense system! War in the Pacific will be no slam dunk for the US. China has a lot more sophisticated defenses than the Syrians, including anti-ballistic missile defenses and electronic countermeasures.
The bases in Okinawa? Sitting ducks.
Here’s what the situation in the Pacific looks like. Note that the Chinese defense line includes Okinawa and Subic Bay and Japan. And China’s offensive reach extends far beyond Guam.
If the Chinese were to invade Taiwan, they just would be crossing the 180 km Taiwan Strait. They would be on home turf. Not that they have any intention of invading Taiwan one of their largest trading partners. They want those valuable semiconductor plants humming along smoothly.
However, if for the sake of the argument, they Chinese were somehow forced to invade — then almost the entire area of Taiwan is covered by Chinese land-based air defense systems.
If the US tried to intervene, its forces would be vulnerable. China is not the Taliban. It has a bit more firepower.
China’s maritime forces are clearly considerable and rapidly evolving.
And by the end of the 5 Year modernization program in 2025, they will be more than formidable.
In fact, China’s weaponry improves almost by the day. The Chinese have the technological and industrial base to modernize much faster than the West can. Most importantly is also has the will—since it faces an existential threat of aggression that the West does not.
In terms of cruise missiles, a category to which the JASSM missiles belongs, China has a range of different missiles with different characteristics, adaptable to different senarios. These include but are not limited to the DH-10, CH-10, DF-10A and YJ-100 with ranges varying from 300 to 1000 km. They can be launched from various platforms including aircraft, ships, and submarines. \
In addition. China has air launched hypersonic missiles like the DF 21 which has a range of almost 2000 km.
Remember the H-6 has a range of almost 4000 km, a lot better than the 700 km of an American carrier aircraft.
Of course, the CBGs (Combat Battle Groups) that Andrei mentions are impressive, especially those super-carriers. But, if war comes, it won’t be WWII Redux.
China has a few aircraft carriers, recognizing their usefulness in dealing with non-peer conflicts. Bu they are not going to try to repeat the Battle of Midway.
China has a different focus.
China’s new a 052D AD “Chinese Aegis” destroyers—for example, come with anti-stealth radars, and 64 cell vertical launch tubes, each with up to four missiles. Each ship can therefore technically salvo up to 260 missiles. That’s a lot of firepower. They are called “carrier killers’ for a reason.
These state of the art ships have a lot of flexibility . Each costs close to a billion dollars – cheap compared to the 3.5 to 7 billion of the US Navy’s next generation DDG destroyer. A US carrier costs 13 billion.
If the US loses 3 carriers, that’s 40 billion dollars but small change in a war with China.
Is Taiwan worth it?
Also—are the Americans that crazy? Recent experience does not do much to suggest that they are really sane. It’s the United States of Unreason.
Like Russia, the Chinese must be prepared for an existential war.
How much help do the Chinese need?
Andrei thinks the Chinese need Russia’s help. No, they don’t need it — they want it. There is a difference.
And Russia wants China’s help. 1 +1 =3.
One area for cooperation is hypersonics. Both countries lead in this field and will extend that lead with time, while the US continues to fall behind.
The Russians have already put their Kinzhal missiles to gppd use in the Ukraine. And they have the Avangard system too.
For their part, the Chinese have several systems. There is the hypersonic, high precision CJ 100 (erroneously the “DF100”) which has a maximum range of more than 3000 km—launched from the air at more than 4000 km!
The DF21 —mentioned by Andrei— is now being replaced by the DF26, which has range of about 4000 km.
And there is an air-launched hypersonic missile similar to the Kinzhal.
Of course, the Russians have excellent delivery systems.
What the US should not want is a two-front war! But, as we have noted, they are crazy and some politicians talking about exactly that.
Even if it is just a war in the Pacific, the US is at a considerable disadvantage If the Chinese and Russians trade military technologies as they do other things, and as the US does with its vassal states, it would be no contest at all.
For example, Chinese used to be behind in submarines. Not anymore. They have launched of very quiet « stealth » submarines to replace its older subs.
Imagine one of these subs with Russian hypersonic Zircon missiles or even with supersonic Kalibr missiles! Or an upgraded version using Russia’s very advanced sub designs!
By themselves, just with Chinese weapons they are a major threat to both US and Japanese submarines and their surface assets.
Consider also the new Chinese Stealth Bomber apparently undergoing flight testing this year, set for delivery in 2025. This bomber’s arsenal will include hypersonic weapons.
The Americans are behind the Russians and Chinese in anti-stealth radar too.
Synergy! And Experience
The Chinese already use some Russian fighter designs, and AD technologies in addition to their own.
Together, they can upgrade radar systems, hypersonics, and advanced air defense systems.
But the most important thing the Russians have which the Chinese don’t is combat experience. Already, the Russians and Chinese are conducting military exercises together. And Russian experience is helping define Chinese strategies for the Pacific Rim.
The US simply cannot keep up. If only because it lacks brainpower.
What would it do without the million Indian engineers and researchers that work in the US? And right now, those engineers are going home, thanks to massive job cuts in US tech giants.
The Russians, with less than half the population of the US graduate twice as many engineers each year. China graduates six times as many. These motivated young people are the driving force of the new technological revolutions changing Russian and Chinese industry.
The US simply no longer has the technological, educational or industrial base it used to have. Its focus on pie-in-the-sky, budget-killing systems that are too expensive to use and too expensive to lose rules out conventional war—even if the country had the means to produce those systems when it might need them. The US has never faced an existential threat and still doesn’t. So the perceived need is not there. If it were, you would have conscription as you do in Russia and China.
In the end, the only existential threat to the US is its own delusions.
A year before he died, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote:
« Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran, an ‘antihegemonic’ coalition united not by ideology but by complementary grievances. »
That scenario is what successive US presidents from Obama to Biden have created and which we see realized today in Xi’s visit to Moscow and the Russian and Chinese alliance with Iran.
2 réflexions sur “Un an avant sa mort, Zbigniew Brzezinski écrivait : « Potentiellement, le scénario le plus dangereux serait une grande coalition de la Chine, de la Russie et peut-être de l’Iran, une coalition » antihégémonique « unie non pas par idéologie mais par des griefs complémentaires. » ”
Tiens … Brzezinsky est mort ?
Décidément ces pages sont pleines de bonnes nouvelles.