New Chinese Diesel-Electric Submarine Breaks Cover

War Zone – Another new and previously unknown Chinese submarine design has appeared, continuing the country’s prodigious naval shipbuilding program. The emergence of this submarine comes after a new subclass of a conventionally-powered type broke cover last year and the reveal of a highly intriguing “sail-less” design three years before that, though there are no clear indications one way or another that any of these are directly related to each other.

China Maritime Report No. 18: Chinese Special Operations in a Large-Scale Island Landing

China Maritime Studies Institute – PLA special operations forces (SOF) would likely play important supporting roles in an amphibious assault on Taiwan. Their capabilities and training are geared towards several missions undertaken during the preparatory and main assault phases of the landing, including infiltration via special mission craft and helicopter, reconnaissance and targeting, obstacle clearance, strikes and raids, and extraction missions. While PLA SOF have made progress in recent years, several longstanding challenges could affect their performance in an island landing: integrating advanced special mission equipment for complex and dangerous missions, coordinating their operations with non-SOF supporting and supported forces, and overcoming the Chinese military’s penchant for centralized command. Even if PLA SOF are only partially effective, however, their support to the main assault force could diminish Taiwan’s ability to defend itself from a large-scale invasion.

China Maritime Report No. 17: The PLA Army’s New Helicopters: An “Easy Button” for Crossing the Taiwan Strait?

China Maritime Studies Institute – This report examines the potential roles and missions of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) new rotary wing capabilities in a cross-strait invasion. Looking specifically at the helicopter units of the PLA Army (PLAA), it discusses two possible scenarios in which these forces could serve as the main thrust in a campaign to seize control of Taiwan. In the first scenario, the PLAA would use nearly all of its rotary wing inventory simultaneously to overwhelm Taiwan’s defenses and quickly convince the country’s political leadership to surrender. In a second “unconventional” scenario, the PLAA would risk the destruction of older helicopters in order to launch a sudden attack against the island, thereby achieving the element of surprise while saving its most capable platforms for lengthy follow-on operations to fully subdue the island. Based on analysis of the scale, complexity, and frequency of recent PLAA exercises, this report argues that China is at best a decade away from having the ability to seize Taiwan by either approach.