Thursday 17th September 2020
A Pentagon report shakes the US Department of Defense: China is said to have overtaken the United States as the largest sea power. That should change again. The Navy is to grow and even get “autonomous” ships and submarines.
The US wants to modernize and enlarge its naval forces. Defense Secretary Mark Esper presented a concept according to which the Navy is to be expanded from the current 293 to 355 ships in the coming decades. The modernized fleets should include “autonomous” ships, submarines and unmanned aircraft.
According to the concept paper, tens of billions of dollars will be invested in the modernization and expansion of the US Navy by 2045. The plan aims to ensure the superiority of the US fleet over the Chinese naval forces. Speaking at an event organized by the Rand Corporation, California-based think tank, Esper underlined that China is the United States’s biggest security threat.
According to a Pentagon report published a few days ago, the People’s Republic has the world’s largest naval fleet. It consists of a total of 350 ships and submarines. However, Esper stressed that the Chinese Navy lacks combat strength and technological capabilities. The US Secretary of Defense described the Indo-Pacific as the “main arena” for the US armed forces. The region is not only of great importance as a hub for global trade, it is also “the epicenter of a great power competition with China”.
In this part of the world, the Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea in particular are causing strong tensions. China claims practically the entire South China Sea, which is rich in raw materials. Washington regards Beijing’s territorial claims as illegal and has repeatedly dispatched warships to the region.