How drones might change the security environment in Asia

How drones might change the security environment in Asia

After the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia drone wars have attracted attention by many strategic and military thinkers. TX Hammes already wrote an early and programmatic article”The Future of Warfare:Small, many, smart vss. Few and exquisite?” in “War on the Rocks”

Some strategic thinkers now also think about the implications drones could have for the warfare in Asia, especially regarding China and North Korea.

Robert E. Kelly, professor for international relations at the Pusan University wrote in his article “Drones are changing how Iran and North Korea fight wars” in The National Interest:

“In the United States, it is often said that the F-35 is the last manned fighter jet America will produce. Drones are cheaper; they can loiter over a battlespace for long hours; and perhaps most importantly, if they are shot-down, there is no human pilot to die or be taken prisoner. Politically this is hugely attractive. It insures that events such as the trial of Francis Gary Powers or the imprisonment of U.S. pilots during the Vietnam War will never recur. The political path of least resistance for airstrikes is now to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) rather than manned planes.

For smaller powers like North Korea or Iran, drones offer two other benefits. First, because drones are so comparatively inexpensive, they open the possibility of contesting U.S. air dominance. To be sure, such a challenge is still small. But in environments where U.S. air superiority is nearly complete, drones open up new space and possibilities, and this is bound to be attractive.(…)

For North Korea specifically, the Saudi strike may open some new options. Conventionally, North Korea is greatly outgunned in the sky. It also badly lacks aerial reconnaissance capabilities, especially compared to the U2 flights and satellite coverage that the United States (and Japan) conduct over North Korea. The North has already sent UAVs with crude cameras over South Korean airspace since at least 2014. This will almost certainly continue. Drones are cheap enough to be within even North Korea’s constrained resources, and counter-balancing the massive information asymmetry between U.S. and North Korea aerial reconnaissance makes UAVs even more attractive. Nor, conveniently, do the North Koreans care for rules of airspace sovereignty, particularly regarding South Korea. North Korea has provoked South Korea along the demilitarized zone and the northern limit line (NLL) for decades. It will hardly stop now. Seoul is, at last, investing in countermeasures.

The most disturbing possibility though is that North Korea would copy the Iranian strike on Saudi Arabia. UAVs allow the North to expand its traditional land and sea provocations along the DMZ and NLL into the sky. This would enlarge the area of operations for North Korean misbehavior; a whole new list of possible targets would come into range. Traditionally, North Korean provocations occur right on the border, presumably because Pyongyang lacks the ability to strike in depth. That restriction would now be lifted. North Korean drones might now penetrate deeper into South Korea before creating havoc.

This possibility is enhanced by the proximity of South Korea’s largest urban agglomeration to the North. The Seoul-Kyeonggi-Incheon corridor holds some 60 percent of the entire South Korean population. The Blue House—the residence of the South Korean president—is just 23 miles from the DMZ. South Korea’s center of gravity is flush against the border, which would offer many inviting, hard-to-defend targets for Northern drones.

In the strike on Saudi Arabia, Iran has enjoyed some plausible deniability, suggesting it was perhaps the Houthis of Yeman or insurgents in Iraq. Luckily, North Korea would not enjoy such plausibility. Any serious drone strike along the DMZ-NLL would immediately be traced back to Pyongyang. Hence a large-scale strike like last week’s is unlikely here. But UAVs do significantly widen the space for long-established North Korean harassment of the South. And that, in turn, enlarges the possibility that one of these provocations spins out of control and leads to serious conflict.“

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/drones-are-changing-how-iran-and-north-korea-fight-wars-117161

Chinese scholar Chen Guodong in his article” The Chinese Rocket Force is about to lose its only deterrent” thinks if Taiwan would produce 100 000 MQ1- Predator drones, China would lose its deterrent in form of its rocket force and thereby air superiority. However, the weak point of this argument is, that this magic number ignores the financial costs, might overestimate the production and technological capabilities of the Taiwanese defense industry and the political will of the USA to deliver Taiwan such technology or drones and risk an aggressive conflict and even war with China. Another question is that the USA, China and other Asian states will also arm themselves with drones and might further destabilize the strategic balance.

The Chinese Rocket Force is about to lose its only deterrent

Chen Guodong

Why has the Chinese army not carried out amphibious landing combat exercises above the battalion level for more than two years?

In May 2018, I published “THE MAIN ATTACK PROGRAM OF ROCKET ARMYTHE NEW THINKING OF CHINA’S ZERO CASUALTIES REGAINING TAIWAN “in the United States. I clearly pointed out in the book that there are many effective anti-landing weapons, and digital artillery alone can make landing operations withdraw from the world war arena. Decades ago, various cannons on warships had been automated. The U.S. Army also has a 120mm fully automatic mortar. These automated guns can be unattended or remotely controlled. Of course, automated medium-range and long-range rockets with strong fortifications are the best way to suppress landing forces. After reading this book, the Chinese army finally understood that the landing operation was outdated.

However, if the Chinese Air Force can gain control over Taiwan, can effectively destroy or suppress the radar of Taiwan’s air defense system, and can destroy the digital artillery in the underground fortifications, the Chinese army can finally land.

Taiwan’s long-range air defense missiles usually adopt radio-command mid-course guidance and semi-active radar guided terminal homing. I pointed out on page 115 of this book that if the E-3 airborne early warning aircraft of the U.S. Far East Air Force were to provide early warning and command to the Taiwan Air Force over Japan’s “Yonaguni island” 119 kilometers from the east coast of Taiwan, even if Taiwan’s own search and alert radar cannot be used, Taiwan’s long-range air defense missiles can still be launched quickly and accurately. This analysis proves that it is difficult for the Chinese mainland Air Force to gain control over Taiwan.

Therefore, the Chinese military can only accept my research conclusion, that is, it can only use the Rocket Force’s short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles to cut off Taiwan’s power supply and force the Taiwan authorities to give in. The Chinese mainland military can effectively intercept the fighter jets and cruise missiles of the Taiwan military. Taiwan military cannot effectively intercept the short- and medium-range ballistic missiles of the Chinese mainland military. On both sides of the Taiwan Strait, the one that has the advantage for the time being is the Rocket Force of the Chinese mainland military. Unexpectedly, senior cadres of the Chinese military, the Chinese government, and the Chinese Communist Party believe that this advantage is long-term, even eternal. The laws of science and war show that no one party can have a long-term advantage.

Offense is the best defense and the lowest cost defense. I reminded the Chinese military in the book that within half a year after the publication of this book, it is the time window for the Chinese Rocket Army to regain Taiwan. After half a year, Taiwan may find a way to deal with it. In fact, before my book was published, I knew how Taiwan effectively attacked China. I decided to keep it secret for the time being and let the military on both sides of the strait freely compete. As a result, a long time has passed, and the Taiwan military has never thought of how to effectively attack the Chinese mainland. The U.S. military and many think tank experts also stubbornly believe that the Chinese military will adopt a three-dimensional landing operation plan to regain Taiwan. The reason for American scholars may be that this book has been published in the United States. Will the Chinese military still adopt it? I have clearly stated in the book that as long as the United States cannot effectively intercept short-range and medium-range ballistic missiles, Mainland China can always implement the “THE MAIN ATTACK PROGRAM OF ROCKET ARMY”. On September 27, 2020, in the new military conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, both sides used a large number of unmanned aircraft. Although Azerbaijan used drones to win the conflict, it has no reference to Taiwan. A significant UAV combat case for Taiwan is Iran’s use of drones to secretly attack Saudi Arabia’s oil fields and large oil refineries on September 14, 2019. The long-range attack by Iranian drones is of great significance to Taiwan. Iran revealed the secrets I kept for Mainland China.

Suitable for Taiwan is the MQ-1 Predator UAV, with a maximum range of 3,700 kilometers and can reach all cities in China (except western Tibet and Xinjiang). The MQ-1 Predator UAV can launch two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles (each weighing 49 kg). If you remove the landing gear of the MQ-1 Predator drone and change it to catapult takeoff, remove the satellite antenna, remove the photoelectric detection equipment, remove the radar, remove the AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, use the lidar altimeter, the aircraft structure and engine according to the standard of disposable products (20 hours service life), MQ-1 Predator drone can be simplified as a piston propeller powered long-range cruise missile. The simplified version of the MQ-1 Predator drone can carry 150 kilograms of high explosives. Its manufacturing cost may be controlled within $50,000, just like the entry price of a high-end car.

Taiwan’s technological level and industrial production capacity are significantly higher than that of Turkey. Taiwan can produce 100,000 simplified MQ-1 Predator drones in one month, and 300,000 simplified MQ-1 Predator drones in three months. If a frontal intensive penetration is adopted, tens of thousands of simplified versions of the MQ-1 Predator drones can easily exhaust China’s air defense missiles. If Taiwan operates three shifts a day, 100,000 simplified MQ-1 Predator drones can be produced in two weeks. This drone takes off from the eastern coast of Taiwan, and it is difficult to detect the launch site. More than 100,000 simplified versions of the MQ-1 Predator drones can also cut off most of the electricity supply in Mainland China, can destroy most of the oil refineries in Mainland China, and can destroy 3,200 jumbo jets in Mainland China. The above-mentioned attack effect is truly unbearable in Mainland China.

Once Taiwan has more than 100,000 simplified versions of MQ-1 Predator drones, it can attack all key economic targets in Mainland China like Iran launches long-range attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil fields and refineries. The military power across the strait will be rebalanced. The Continental Rocket Force will lose its only deterrent capability. At that time, unless China carries out political reforms, there will be no national reunification.

The new military technology revolution that Andrew Marshall studied 25 years ago was long-range precision strike. The great Mr. Marshall may not have thought that the protagonist of long-range precision strike weapons is low-cost and low-tech long-range drones. Great powers will lose their military superiority, and China and the United States are no exception. The hope that Mainland China can regain Taiwan by force will soon disappear, as long as the Taiwan leader takes the correct action immediately.

About the author: Chen Guodong, a non-partisan Chinese scholar, has published two military monographs in the United States. WILL THE U.S.A. BE REPLACED BY JAPAN?——The Immediate Completion of Japanese Underwater Military Revolution was published in the United States in March 2017. THE MAIN ATTACK PROGRAM OF ROCKET ARMYTHE NEW THINKING OF CHINA’S ZERO CASUALTIES REGAINING TAIWAN was published in the United States in May 2018.

中国火箭军即将失去仅有的威慑力

陈国栋

为什么中国军队已经有两年多时间没有开展营级以上规模的两栖登陆作战演习?

2018年5月我在美国出版《火箭军主攻方案:中国零伤亡收复台湾新思维》。我在书里明确指出,有效的反登陆武器有很多,仅仅数字化炮兵就能让登陆作战退出世界战争舞台。几十年前,军舰上的各种火炮已经实现自动化。美国陆军也拥有120毫米全自动迫击炮。这些自动化的火炮可以无人值守或远程控制。当然,自动化的、有坚固工事保护的中程和远程火箭炮压制登陆部队的效果最好。看到这部书之后,中国军队终于明白,登陆作战过时了。

可是,如果中国大陆空军能取得在台湾上空的控制权,能有效摧毁或压制台湾防空系统的雷达,能摧毁地下坚固工事里的数字化炮兵,中国大陆军队最终还是可以登陆。

台湾的远程防空导弹通常采取无线电指令+半主动雷达制导。我在这部书的第115页指出,如果美国远东空军的E-3空中早期预警飞机在距离台湾东海岸119千米的日本“与那国岛”(yonaguni island japan)上空为台湾空军提供预警和指挥服务,即使台湾自己的搜索与警戒雷达无法使用,台湾的远程防空导弹仍然可以快速地和准确地发射。这种分析证明,中国大陆空军很难在台湾上空取得控制权。

因此,中国军方只能接受我的研究结论,即只能使用火箭军的短程和中程弹道导弹切断台湾电力供应,迫使台湾当局屈服。中国大陆军队可以有效拦截台湾军队的战斗机和巡航导弹。而台湾无法有效拦截中国大陆军队的短程、中程弹道导弹。在台湾海峡两岸,暂时有优势的一方,是中国大陆火箭军。意想不到的是,中国军方、中国政府和中国共产党的高级干部认为这种优势是长期的,甚至是永恒的。科学规律和战争规律表明,任何一方不可能拥有长期优势。

进攻是最好的防守,也是成本最低的防守。我在书里提醒中国军队,这部书出版后半年内,是中国火箭军收复台湾的时间窗口。半年之后,台湾可能会找到应对方法。其实,我的书出版之前,我就知道台湾如何有效进攻中国大陆。我决定暂时保密,让海峡两岸军队自由竞争。结果,很长时间过去了,台湾军队一直没有想到如何有效进攻中国大陆。美国军方和很多思想库的专家也一样,顽固认为中国军队会采用立体登陆作战方案收复台湾。美国学者的理由可能是,这部书已经在美国公开出版了,中国军队还会采用吗?我在书里早已明确说明,只要美国无法有效拦截短程和中程弹道导弹,中国大陆随时可以实施火箭军主攻方案。2020年9月27日,在阿塞拜疆和亚美尼亚之间的新的军事冲突中,双方大量使用无人飞机。虽然在冲突中阿塞拜疆使用无人机取得胜利,但这对台湾没有借鉴意义。对台湾有意义的无人机作战案例是2019年9月14日伊朗使用无人机秘密攻击沙特阿拉伯油田和大型炼油厂。伊朗无人机的远程攻击,对台湾而言具有重大意义。伊朗揭开了我为中国大陆保守的秘密。

适合台湾的是MQ-1捕食者无人机(Predator),最大航程3700千米,可以到达中国所有城市(西藏西部和新疆除外)。MQ-1捕食者无人机可发射两枚AGM-114地狱火飞弹(单发重量49千克)。如果去除MQ-1捕食者无人机的起落架改为弹射起飞,去除卫星天线,去除光电侦查设备,去除雷达,去除AGM-114地狱火飞弹,使用激光雷达高度表,飞机结构与发动机按一次性产品的标准(20小时使用寿命),可以把捕食者A无人机简化为活塞螺旋桨动力远程巡航导弹。简化版的MQ-1捕食者无人机可以携带150千克高爆炸药。它的制造成本有可能控制在5万美元以内,就像一辆高档轿车的售价。

台湾的科技水平和工业生产能力明显高于土耳其。台湾一个月时间可以生产10万架简化版的MQ-1捕食者无人机,3个月能生产30万架简化版的MQ-1捕食者无人机。如果采取正面密集突防,上万架简化版的MQ-1捕食者无人机可以轻易耗光中国大陆的防空导弹。如果台湾每天三班制,2周就能赶制出10万架简化版的MQ-1捕食者无人机。这款无人机从台湾东部海岸起飞,很难被探测到发射地点。10万架以上的简化版的MQ-1捕食者无人机同样可以切断中国大陆绝大多数电力供应,可以摧毁中国大陆大多数炼油厂,可以摧毁中国大陆3200架大型喷气式客机。上述攻击效果是中国大陆真正无法承受的。

一旦台湾拥有10万架以上简化版的MQ-1捕食者无人机,可以像伊朗对沙特阿拉伯油田和炼油厂发动远程攻击一样,攻击中国大陆所有关键经济目标。海峡两岸军力将重新平衡。大陆火箭军将失去仅有的威慑能力。那时,除非中国大陆进行政治改革,否则不可能出现国家统一。

安德鲁马歇尔25年前研究的新军事技术革命是远程精确打击。伟大的马歇尔先生可能没有想到远程精确打击武器的主角是低成本和低技术的远程无人机。大国将失去军事优势,中国和美国都不例外。中国大陆武力收复台湾的希望将很快消失,只要台湾领导人立即采取正确行动。

作者简介:陈国栋,中国无党派民间学者,温和派国家主义者,2017年3月在美国出版《美国会被日本取代吗?——即将完成的日本水下军事革命》。2018年5月在美国出版《火箭军主攻方案:中国零伤亡收复台湾新思维

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