Home / Robert Farley / The A2/AD Challenge

The A2/AD Challenge

US Navy 080621-N-8467N-001 Pre-commissioning Unit New Hampshire (SSN 778) sits moored to the pier at General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard moments before her christening ceremony commenced.jpg
USS New Hampshire. By U.S. Navy photo by John Narewski – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8181221

Stephen Biddle and Ivan Oelrich recently wrote an important article about the balance of military technology in the Western Pacific. This is the first of what will likely amount to three commentaries:

In a recent article in International Security, Stephen Biddle and Ivan Oelrich have developed a formidable analysis of how the balance of power and technology in the Asia-Pacific may shift over the next three decades. The argument, discussed earlier by Steven Stashwick, suggests that technology may push the United States and China into a rough stalemate in the middle part of the 21st century.

Biddle, longtime scholarly analyst of military affairs and the author of numerous books and articles on land warfare (both its conventional and counterinsurgency variants), and Oelrich undertake an uncharacteristically technology-heavy analysis, concentrating on the physical limitations of extant and speculative strike and surveillance systems. The authors frame their analysis around a Chinese effort to coerce regional powers (most notably Taiwan) into submission through means of a bombing campaign, a blockade, or an invasion.

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  • I know it’s all naive and stuff, but I really wish we could spend this money on schools and books instead of pissing it all away on penis enhancements. I really do.

  • With the authors’ emphasis on land-based installations/missiles as a major determining factor of A2/AD effectiveness, China’s dredging activities surely make quite a bit of sense.

    • Lurker

      If we look at the paper’s conclusions, the artoficial islands are essentially SAM platforms that allow China to defend high-flying radar pickets. The limiting thing for the A2/AD weapons is the target acquisition. The further out you can take your radars, the better off you are.

      However, SAM platforms on those reefs are almost as vulnerable as ships.

      • ColBatGuano

        I’d say more vulnerable given that they can’t move.

  • Ghostship

    Why would China want to project its power far into the Pacific? To invade the United States? What does the United States have that it can’t buy elsewhere besides certain technology which it’s capable of developing itself?
    The real problem for the United States is that it’s now on the wrong landmass and probably the only way it can reacquire its position as the global imperial power is to invade and occupy China. Good luck with that

    • Joe

      Go to https://www.shipmap.org/ and look at the South China Sea. Imagine China deciding that’s a toll road. Or imagine yourself as a Chinese official, worrying about whether the USA should decide that’s a toll road.

      • Ghostship

        Why would the Chinese want to make the SCC a toll road, they’re all for FON there which is why they’re building the islands. The big problem for the Chinese is the Malacca Straits which is where the USN might put the squeeze on Chinese trade but a blockade there would an obvious act of war and against the American “principle” of FON. If the USN closed the Malacca Straits to Chinese trade, then perhaps the PLAN might assist the IRRN to shut down the Straits of Hormuz. But still no need for a large deep sea navy capable of project Chinese power far out in the Pacific rather than lots of extended range diesel-electric or nuclear subs and DF-26s to push A2/AD out to 3,500-5,000 kms.
        Actually if I was First Sea Lord of China I would build a couple of carriers with catapults to persuade the USN that they needed to build a lot more carriers but my real “deep sea” navy would all be subs because I don’t need “force projection” in the American sense, I just need to be able to reliably sink all those carrier battle groups and then launch a response to any American nuclear strike on the Chinese homeland.

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