So back on June 2nd, being all of 5 days on this board I posted the exact same thread. It was one of my firsts topics I started and What ensued was a
3000+ post titanic thread that developed a life of its own until it was mercifully closed well over a year later.
However, so much has changed in not only the general readiness of the PLA, but as we are seeing in the South China Seas a general increase in the
level of not only rhetoric but actual physical aggression that it seems an appropriate time to take a fresh look.
The thread from 2004
With all the talk about about the US, China, and Taiwan one really has to look at the simple fact. China cannot invade at this time.
1) China lacks the amphibious capacity to move enough troops over
2) Any attempt to airlift in the necessary equipment/troops would in all likelyhood be decimated by Taiwans Pac 2's and thier AF.
3) For all thier thugary, the ChiCom leadership seems to understand that in order to take over Taiwan they would in essence have to burn it down. If
they are persuing a scorched earth policy, then there may not be much the US or Taiwan can do to stop them. However, I think they want and need to
keep Taiwan viable for thier own economy. Can you imagine the efficiency of slave labor coupled to the quality controll and moderinzation that Taiwan
4) The US would not stand by and allow Taiwan to be taken by conventional means. Aside from being a great customer from our planes and weapons systems
we also benifit from an economic/industrial standpoint.
5) China can sabre rattle all they want, but can they affort to piss off thier most important trading partner the US?
First off a few assumptions: (I'm not saying this is set in stone, but it helps frame the discussion
1) The Chicoms want Taiwan intact not burned down to the bedrock
2) The battle will cover anything short Nuclear Weapons.
First I want to take a look at my original thoughts
1) China lacks the amphibious capacity to move enough troops over: This remains the same IMHO. While the PLAN (worst Naval name ever btw) has made a
huge jump in capacity AND they have added almost 20 ships to their Gator Navy they would have to have near uncontested air superiority as well as
surface and undersea superiority to ensure those ships even get close and would face a well trained and dug in Taiwanese Army defending their homes
2) Any attempt to airlift in the necessary equipment/troops.....: This one as above has gone from a done deal to a bit more of a wildcard. Taiwan's
ability to run defensive air operations would be hampered by the inevitable missile attacks that would no doubt saturate the Islands defenses.
However, the PLA will not be able to simply airdrop troops but will rather have to secure an airfield or two to make it happen.
3) See my initial note. They want the island relatively intact if at all possible
4) The US will not stand by: This is a must IMHO if the US wants to keep being a super power. We need to defend Taiwan as if it were our own.
5) This one is no longer valid: We are in an active trade war with China.
Factors that favor the ChiComs:
A huge massive military. As Stalin said ""Quantity has a quality all of its own" and despite all of the recent headline grabbing J-20's and
carriers etc, the bulk of the PLAN, PLAF, and PLA is made up of huge numbers of older equipment with enough moderns planes / tank / ships to make
things interesting and as noted posses large amounts of Surface to Surface missiles to help keep the Taiwanese planes on the ground and could saturate
the SAM systems etc.
They have improved there A2AD capacity extensively with the US Navy in mind. The addition of the J-20 which reportedly has good frontal stealth gives
them the ability to go after high value targets like say and E-3 or tankers etc.
Proximity. Their logistical trail will be very short.
Cyber: The Chicoms seem pretty adept at hacking and cyberattacks. They could and would disrupt not only military operations but civilian
infrastructure in the CONUS etc.
Space: The Chicoms have rightfully focused on going after space assets. They will be able to wreak havoc with GPS and Comms world wide
Motivation: they have the money and the type of authoritarian government needed to accept large losses and keep pressing to get things done
Factors that favor the Taiwanese:
They have a professional military that is well trained and dug in. Political pressure has limited their access to weapons but they have a innovative
and motivated indigenous military industrial complex.
They routinely practice disbursing their forces and operate from highways etc.
The biggest factor is the United States Navy. The US Navy's Pacific Fleet is more than a match for the PLAN et al. From carriers to the submarines,
the PLAN would have a short but exciting life in a shooting war. From its destroyers to the submarine force, the US Navy has the experience as well as
the doctrine and tactics needed to put the PLAN at the bottom of the ocean.
Much has been made of the various steps in A2AD they have made but their kill chain to take out US flattops is almost insurmountable:
1) You would have to find them and track them. They are not some oil derrick that is stationary and move in excess of 30 knots. The ocean is vast
and its not easy
2) you would have to get close enough to launch weapons at them. With all due respect to the DF-21 see point #1. Even if the warhead maneuvers
that carrier is still going to be moving about. Subs? Aircraft? Same thing, its going to take alot to get close.
3) Lets say you got close. Then you would deal with the CAP.
4) After the cap you have to deal with Aegis. Most of the ABM ships the US has are in the Pacific Fleet
5) lastly you have the point defense weapons each ship has. The ESSM and RAM systems are an upgrade to the old CWIS, but not viable against all
People seem to forget that modern CBG was designed to go up near the USSR and be survivable and its much better equipped generally (except the
capacity lost with the F-14 but thats another thread)
Thats just the USN. With the US Airforce you again have a stealthy integrated force that is not only the best at air superiority but also has a
legitimate maritime strike capacity. BUFF's will soon be loaded with AGM-158C LRASM which again will make the PLAN's life pretty hard. In addition,
they would also be running CAP's to make it harder to find the carriers.
You couple that with long range interdiction and the Chicoms supply chain despite being short will be disrupted not to mention their coastal bases and
So in conclusion the same conclusion seems to hold today. China cannot invade Taiwan. Destroy? Yes, but invade no.