BEIJING – Apr 29, 2019 – The firepower of Chinese ships may be a decisive capability in a naval confrontation against the US Navy.
That’s because Chinese ships are endowed with supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, which have a greater range than the US Navy. The YJ-18 cruise missiles have an operating range of more than 540 kilometers.
It is true that advanced Type 052 and Type 055 Chinese destroyers possess 64 and 112 cells of the vertical launch system (VLS), while North American vessels possess a larger number of VLS cells.
However, according to Bryan Clark, a former naval officer and naval expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the Chinese have roughly the same number of surface combat ships as the Americans.
So [Chinese warships] have fewer VLS cells than the US, but they can target more of those VLS cells for offensive weapons, Clark told Business Insider .
In naval combat, range, capability and competence are fundamental, and it seems that China has a wide advantage in at least one or two of these areas.
Any day in the South China Sea, [the US and China] could find themselves in a situation where they both have roughly the same number of anti-ship cruise missiles, but one side has a far greater range than the other,” Clark said, noting that the US would be at a disadvantage.
Even if the US has the same types and numbers of vessels, this will not be enough if the Chinese are able to launch the missiles at greater distances, that is, it will make the American missiles irrelevant, since the Chinese will be out of reach.
We do not have anything that goes that far, so the disadvantage of reach becomes dominant. You will never have the chance to exploit your capacity advantage, said Clark, who believes that even with a larger capacity, this is not enough to deal with the Chinese.