Sunday, July 31, 2011

CDF Book Review: Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles, edited by Andrew S. Erickson and Lyle J. Goldstein.

Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles, edited by Andrew S. Erickson and Lyle J. Goldstein

This fifth installment in the series “Studies in Chinese Maritime Development” was the result of the fourth annual conference of the China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) hosted by the US Naval War College in Newport, R.I. Together with previous CMIS publications, the papers presented by this installation are of the highest quality with primary Chinese sources. They are written by the most respected authorities on the subject -- ranging from policy makers and influencers to retired flag officers, a former submarine captain and a former member of the PLA who has now become a professor at the USAF’s Air War College. In other words, no self-appointed journalists or political operatives were allowed in this publication.

This installment is arranged in six parts to address the major challenges facing China. In addition to the much discussed maritime strike role for Ballistic missiles, other important areas were summarized: helicopter missions, airborne anti-submarine warfare, cruise missiles, aviation and naval doctrine, naval aviation capabilities and intentions, employment of naval UAV, C4ISR, the role of the new found carrier task force, and the Chinese concept of deterrence and possible US response.

While unveiling fancy new equipment can generate headlines, the press generally doesn’t ask the deeper question of how new equipment may change existing PLA doctrine or examine potential implications. This is where the good folks from the CMSI come in and provide analyses that are lacking in the blogosphere (present company included). Upon closer examination, the challenges facing China are greater than the successes so far documented. China’s still weak ASW capability is often cited as case in point.

In my opinion, having this honest and professional assessment will help not only Washington decision makers, but also those in Beijing to "try harder" (to borrow a phrase from Adm (ret) McVadon) by engaging each other without poisonous public emotion.

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