As we can observe there is a race going on and the winner is still not clear.
The runners are USA and China. The prize is domination in the Pacific region. The winner gets everything, the looser goes home. Of course there is a possibility for a win-win option but it’s not very common to see such a solution in such complex scenarios so let’s leave it for now.
If we look at the bigger picture the winner will not only get the Pacific but probably rule the Rimland. Now this is something to fight for.
Since a few posts I’ve been writing about Chinese advancements which could lead to a opinion that they are leading or are getting close to the first place. The finish line is far, far away and the old champion is still in good shape and has a few tricks in his arsenal.
Te most important thing is that we are getting closer to a real revolution. It is not common to see it while you walk the earth. In most cases you can read about it in history books. We have a rare opportunity to have a closer look at the whole process of a technical revolution. The most important part would be to end this revolution without a war. This is beyond us so let’s leave it and look at the situation and the possible outcomes.
For now we still live in a world dominated by US made or perfected military armament. Situational awareness, precise weapons, stealth, fast jets, long range bombers etc. They are well known and the nations willing to join the first league start to perfect their own solutions in those areas. This means that the old master has two ways – perfect the old solutions even further or jump forward with new inventions. One of the questions is for how long the USA can still run in this race and always be in the front. It is obvious that in the light of the fast pace of catching up perfecting the old tools will bring them nothing.
That is why we get so many information’s about new armament in the works, new ways of fighting the previous era weapons. Laser seems the most important toll which could change the rules of future wars. It is especially important in the Pacific.
The old safe heavens are no longer safe. Guam is in the range of Chinese conventional ballistic missiles and without Guam as a backbone of the whole system of American defense we could observe a collapse or at least a crippled system. Gum is far away but what with Okinawa and other bases in Japan? Once they were a safe harbor but today if we assume a full scale conventional war in the Pacific there are no such places thanks to Chinese rocket systems and far reaching radars.
How to combat them? How to regain the ability to sail where you want as this is the key factor in the Western Pacific? I think that lasers might be the game changer. They would be a step forward compared to rockets, guided bombs and other legacy systems. They would also be much cheaper. Once deployed you wouldn’t need a pile of money to reload. You would just need energy. We are getting closer and closer to using them – the open work on this solutions might indicate that either there is something even better being worked on in the secret facilities or that the USA wants to speed things up using a broader poll of contractors. Either way (maybe there is a third or fourth option) the steady stream of information’s about lasers is a indicator that we might see some massive development in this area and that is why I tend to write a lot about them.
Having ships and aircraft equipped with lasers would allow to counter the Chinese plans of disabling key US points in the region and fight the overwhelming power of their rocket systems. It would also allow to counter the J-20 which is already a first line machine ready to go to war. Arming tanker, AWACS and transport aircraft with laser systems for self defense would allow to fight the war on US terms and in a way that was fought for years. Short range of tactical aircraft which form the backbone of the US Air Power wouldn’t be an issue. For now it is a serious problem. Aircraft carriers can’t get too close because of the rocket systems located in the mainland of China and also on ships, submarines and aircraft. Loosing an aircraft carrier is not an option so they will have to stay in the back, this pushes the need of a huge fleet of tankers. Distance is a killer in the Pacific. It’s one of the key factors. Mastering a long range, high-power laser based on a wide range of aircraft could minimize all of the above threats in a substantial way.
USA wont be there in a year or two but the race is on. The nation which will master new technologies will win. Of course there is a catch. If one nation will be aware that it is about to loose the race it might want to take their chances in a old fashioned conflict counting on the fact that it is close to the opponent and has a geographical advantage or if we look from the other side that it still is in the lead and soon this advantage will fade so now or never.
From an analyst perspective the situation is very interesting. There are many many more options than the highlighted in this text. These are just a few factors which can decide about the future of the region. We must look closely as the situation will change very rapidly.