Tuesday, November 16, 2010

第3日中戦争 The third Japanese Chinese war

The other day, I found an article in a Japanese English language newspaper that rather angered me.



I have never met the person who wrote this article, but after reading it, I felt insulted. The tone of his article was that American Marines are needed for the protection of Japan. He totally ignores the fact that Japan possesses a strong military. This writer seems to assume that the Japanese military is helpless. So yes, I do get rather angry with people who panic and say we need the American military to help us. The truth is, Japan is not at all helpless.


In a previous post, I wrote about how China had backed down in the face of world opinion and the Japanese Coast Guard. The Japanese Navy played no part, and US forces played no part.



I think this is the significant aspect to this incident. Actually, China is too weak to really push this incident. Recent television news news reports have shown that the Chinese government is discouraging domestic demonstrations about the Senkaku's.


Now let us get to the military discussion of the Senkaku issue. Some people assume that if US forces left Japan, the next day, China would invade the Senkaku islands.


This is preposterous. OK, let us work out how a Chinese invasion would play out. This is fairly easy to do, all it really involves a lot of counting. First of all, let us look at how many troops China could put ashore in an invasion of a Japanese island.


According to this source that I listed previously, China has the ability to land 53,220 troops. Well OK, forget the helicopters in an invasion of a Japanese island. They don't have the range. That gives us a total of 45,860 troops.


That sounds scary, doesn't it. They could just take over Okinawa, couldn't they? Not really.


All right, not including Americans, Japan has a troop unit of 2,100 in Okinawa right now according to this source.



As a rule of thumb, an invading force should be at least 5 times the strength of the defender to succeed in an amphibious invasion. This would mean 10,000 Chinese troops.


So we have those 45,860 Chinese troops, for China it should be easy to invade Okinawa, right?


Wrong. The problem for China is not the numbers of infantry, everybody knows they have a huge army. The problem will be amphibious lift capability. If China ever decides to go war, all of it's amphibious warfare vessels will not be capable of movement.


Let me make another guess, and say that China can get 80% of it's amphibious warfare vessels in operating condition. And I think I am being generous here, I don't think that maintenance will be that fantastic in China. So we can subtract 9,000 troops, that makes 36,860 troops China can put ashore in a first wave.


Well in the article I linked to, it seems that the writer cannot envision a Japanese military response to possible Chinese invasion.


Well I can.


Japan has ground forces of 147,000.


China has 58 submarines, and 77 surface warships in it's Navy.



Japan has 48 surface warships, and 16 submarines.


Japanese Aircraft Carrier Hyuga.


The Japanese Coast Guard has 121 Patrol vessels, of which many are armed.


One thing to remember. China cannot concentrate more than half of it's Naval forces against Japan. Some Naval forces must be left to watch Taiwan, others must watch Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia.


So that gives us numbers like this:


Chinese 29 submarines, 39 surface warships, versus 16 Japanese submarines, 48 surface warships, and some 121 Coast Guard vessels.


A few points to consider. Almost all of the Chinese ships, particularly the submarines, will be old with older technology. Most of the Japanese ships are new, with more modern technology.


Japan also has some 80 Lockheed P-3C anti submarine aircraft. These are very good sub hunters.



It would take a couple of days for any Chinese invasion fleet to reach Okinawa from a Chinese port. Japan would be easily able to send ground troops to all Japanese islands in the area by air and sea transport. In an emergency, civilian aircraft and ferries could be used.


The Chinese surface warships would be tied to escorting the amphibious landing ships, that fleet would have a basically predictable course. As the fleet approaches Japanese islands, it would become more difficult for the Chinese Air Force to protect them. Their aircraft would not be able to spend more than a few minutes each over the fleet as the range from Chinese airfields increases.


On the other hand, Japanese ships can attack form any direction. Japanese aircraft would be fighting near their bases, they would have more time for aerial combat than the Chinese Air Force. Also, Chinese aircraft will generally be trying to protect the convoy, they will be flying a predictable course.


Frankly, I doubt if any Chinese vessels would survive such a battle. What troops that China could land on Japanese territory, they could easily be mopped up by Japanese ground troops.


The Chinese know this, I seriously doubt that they will attack. And that is why they backed down over the recent Senkaku problem when faced with the Japanese Coast Guard.


Estimated losses in such a battle.


This is a guess, as we have never yet seen a massive sea battle with post WWII weaponry. However, I am assuming general Japanese superiority in the electronic sphere. Also, Japan will operating close to it's ports of Naha and Kagoshima. Damaged Japanese ships and aircraft will have a good chance to reach safety, while Chinese ships and aircraft will not. Also, Japanese pilots who must bail out will tend to be rescued, Chinese pilots who must bail out have no chance of rescue. The ocean area east of the Ryukyu island chain will be mostly free of Chinese warships. No Chinese surface ship will survive very long there. Even Chinese submarines will live a dangerous life.


So the losses estimate.


China: Surface warships and amphibious ships: 90%. Submarines: 50% to 75%. Aircraft: 50%


Japan: Surface warships: 25%. Submarines: 1 or 2. Aircraft: 10%


I have not included Japanese Coast Guard vessels in the above estimate. In the main, I do not think they would be used to take on the Chinese fleet, but instead to patrol various areas, and to rescue downed pilots. It is possible that a few of Coast guard vessels might be sunk, but not so many.


While I do think it possible that up to some few thousand Chinese troops could succeed in landing on Japanese territory, with losses such as above, China cannot reinforce them. They all shall become prisoners.


And China cannot ignore Taiwan, or the possibility of Vietnam or other powers taking action in the South China sea.


China will lose much more than any possible gain. They will not attack. It is not necessary to keep American troops permanently based in Japan on permanent alert. The Japanese Self Defense forces alone are sufficient to protect Japan.


Note: While I said that there has not been a modern surface Naval battle between major powers since WWII, we have an interesting example of air combat in The Falklands war in 1982.


Most islands in the Ryukyu chain have airfields.


But in general, we can say that the situation for Air Forces here will be similar, the Chinese situation will resemble the Argentine situation, the Japanese situation will resemble the situation of the British.


Simply counting the Argentine Air Force, they lost 49 out of 138 aircraft committed, while British losses in air combat were few. That is about 36%.



Britain lost 6 out of 28 committed. Now, that is 21%.



However, the age of the aircraft, and pilot quality, were much closer between Argentina and Britain in the Falklands conflict. I think Japan will do better.


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