Chinese see US warship Littoral as a “powerful tool” in future distributed conflicts

The independent littoral combatant USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) launches a naval strike missile (NSM) during Exercise Pacific Griffin on October 1, 2019. U.S. Navy photo

The Chinese military views the anti-ship missile-armed Littoral combat ship as a key part of a distributed United States maritime force in the western Pacific, according to a translation of a 2020 Chinese government research paper on the concept US Navy Distributed Lethality Survey reviewed by USNI. New.

Chinese researchers “compared the littoral combat ship (LCS) with other surface fighters, claiming that the modularity, cheap price, high speed and other features of the former allow it to become a powerful tool in future distributed lethality tactics, “says the United States Navy’s Distributed Lethality Implementation Method” from the Marine Design & Research Institute of China (MARIC). MARIC is the central research and development arm of China’s construction industry naval.

In particular, the speed at which the United States incorporated a test of a Harpoon missile in 2016 on an Independence-class LCS caught the attention of the Chinese.

“The results showed that with a simple transformation, the LCS could also have anti-ship capabilities,” the newspaper read.
“Modular weapons can reduce shipbuilding costs while weapons made with the same interface standard can be easily installed on ships that meet that standard. This is extremely conducive to increasing the overall capabilities of the ship, while the ease of maintenance and the ability to quickly modernize are greatly improved.

There are other signs that the Chinese military is interested in the LCS concept. The United States has restarted the deployment of Independence-class ships to the Western Pacific from 2019 after a hiatus of almost two years. Since their return, the Indys, mostly capable of deploying naval strike missiles, have gained more attention from the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

While the ships were operating in the South China Sea, the LCS attracted three ships from the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to monitor their operations, while an Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyer typically attracts a single Chinese warship to follow him, several Navy officials told USNI News.

Earlier this year, former U.S. 7th Fleet commander Vice Admiral Bill Merz said adding the NSM to the Independence-class LCS would complicate the Chinese calculation in the region.

“When I think about what the opponents have to think about – now it’s not just a particular area of ​​interest; now they have to look at the whole theater – and that challenges a staff, it tests their abilities. I think that was a huge win, and we’re just seeing the start of that, which a number of LCSs in theater can do, ”he said.

The Chinese are developing their own version of the Independence class LCS.

Beyond the LCS, the document recognized that more US surface ships with more anti-ship missiles operating in small surface action groups, rather than larger formations like carrier strike groups or strike groups. amphibious expeditionaries, would complicate Chinese operations in the Pacific.

“The miniaturization of USN formations is not simply a change in the makeup of the formations. Rather, it is an effort to create perfectly balanced combat forces by integrating the capabilities of the platform, to take advantage of widely distributed and dispersed combat operations to reduce the likelihood of being detected by [enemy information, surveillance and reconnaissance systems]. The use of a large number of small formations can also create more combat possibilities, generating a full range of threats to the adversary and putting enormous pressure on the adversary’s ISR systems, ”the document states.

China’s response to the distributed fleet is an investment in improved sensors and maritime awareness and a more robust wargame program that would form an artificial intelligence combat management aid that could outperform a military commander in the face of distributed force.

“Distributed Lethality is an attempt by the United States in intelligent warfare, and the confrontation with AI is also a revolutionary change in future warfare. Therefore, there is a need to assist the command on the battlefield by establishing a war game system that can rigorously reflect reality to form an AI system capable of handling distributed lethality, ”it reads. document.

For military and civilian applications, Beijing has invested massive sums in the exploration of artificial intelligence, according to the final report released by the U.S. National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence in March.

“China has the power, the talent and the ambition to overtake the United States as a global leader in AI over the next decade if current trends do not change,” the report read.

The United States is currently researching its own AI-powered combat management aids and is currently in the midst of a full-scale full-scale exercise to prove the primary tenants of its concept of distributed maritime operations.

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