A report published recently by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) called China’s rapidly increasing air and naval power “remarkable” progress and issued a warning that China’s military technology may outshine the current capabilities of Western military in the coming years.
Dr. John Chipman, Director-General and Chief Executive of IISS, outlined his concerns stemming from the report: “China’s emerging weapons developments and broader defense-technological progress mean that it has become a global defense innovator and is not merely ‘catching up’ with the West.”
What was once a U.S. monopoly on operational stealth combat aircraft, China’s Chengdu J-20 low-observable combat aircraft is now rumored to enter service by 2020. The single-seat stealth fighter developed by China’s Chengdu Aerospace Corporation is designed to become an air superiority fighter with precision strike capabilities.
The report also noted China’s increasing missile research and production, with extended range air-to-air missiles like the PL-15 included in their arsenal. The PL-15 missile is believed to be equipped with active electronically scanned array radar. If such a claim is true, China would be among just a handful of other nations to utilize that technology in an air-to-air missile
“These advances are all part of the Chinese air force’s goal to become capable of challenging any opponent in the air domain. For the past three decades, air dominance has been a key advantage for the U.S. and its allies. This can no longer be assumed,” Chipman wrote.
Along with improvements in the air, China has taken an interest in vastly improving navy technology, the report claims.
Chipman said that, since 2000, “China has built more submarines, destroyers, frigates and corvettes than Japan, South Korea and India combined.”
The total amount of new warships launched by China in just the last four years is significantly greater than the entire French navy itself, Chipman added.
China has quickly become a global military force over the last few decades and continues to increase its military budget year after year. The total spending on military usually accounts for about 1.3 percent of China’s GDP, but the total dollar amount spent continues to increase given China’s flourishing economy.
China’s increased interest in military technology has led to it taking over the second spot in total military expenditures.
The U.S. remains firmly on the top, with President Donald Trump aiming to increase the U.S. military budget even more for fiscal year 2019. The new budget would increase Pentagon accounts for weapons, troops, training and nuclear arms programs by more than 10 percent over current spending levels.