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Executive Summary

 

While the ability of China's People's Liberation Army to absorb and use foreign military technology has been judged in the past to be fair to mediocre, this study, in two parts offers new observations and conclusions. Starting from the fact that the People's Republic of China is now the world's largest importer of weapons and military technologies, its ability to sustain this buying binge is having new cumulative effects. In Part one of this study these effects are summarized as follows:

 

Foreign technology has increased PLA missile and space capabilities by helping the PLA to:

 

Deploy new small nuclear warheads.

 

Deploy new liquid fuel and solid fuel ICBMs capable of reaching the United States.

 

Develop new long-range cruise missiles expected to be deployed by mid-decade.

 

Achieve a manned space capability in about a decade, which is now being used for military purposes.

 

Develop a modern space reconnaissance and surveillance capability.

 

Quickly upgraded the PLA's air defense capabilities.

 

With new foreign weapons the PLA Air Force will be better able to:

 

Amass a fleet of about 400 4th generation attack-capable Russian Sukhoi fighters by about 2006.

 

Better implement evolving offensive joint-warfare doctrines.

 

Develop and produce its first 4th generation combat fighters and lay the groundwork for 5th generation combat aircraft programs.

 

Undertake all-weather counter-air, ground-attack and naval-attack missions on or around Taiwan, and against U.S. forces that may seek to repel such an attack.

 

Arm both foreign-made and indigenous fighters and fighter-attack aircraft with new and capable air-to-air, ground-attack and long-range naval attack weapons.

 

Support combat missions around Taiwan with new space and airborne information platforms and aerial refueling aircraft.

 

Significantly advance the PLA's goal of creating a modern and innovating combat aircraft industry sector.

Foreign technology is enabling the PLA Navy to:

 

Combine new information systems and new long-range strike platforms to enable offensive and defensive missions at far greater distances.

 

Build new generations of modern and capable nuclear and conventional submarines and support them with an increasingly credible Naval Air Force and Air Force strike combination.

 

Better enable future naval attack and blockade operations against Taiwan later in this decade, if the PRC chooses to do so.

 

Begin to gather the air and submarine capabilities needed to credibly threaten possible U.S. Navy intervention in support of Taiwan.

 

Gain increasing naval strength needed to enforce territorial claims, especially in the South China Sea.

 

Increase the PLA Navy's ability to protect naval access in the Indian Ocean and begin to employ a limited naval power projection capability based on sub-launched LACMs.

 

Gain increasing understanding of aircraft carrier construction and operations to better prepare for eventual aircraft carrier construction.

 

Foreign-source weapons and military technologies are benefiting PLA Army capabilities in ways that include:

 

Turning information into a more effective weapon by greater use of UAVs, radars and more profound fire and counter-fire capabilities that are being improved with foreign technologies.

 

Building world-class main battle tanks and armored personnel carriers.

 

Using Russian tank gun-launched laser-guided missiles to give several PLA tanks greater striking distance.

 

Using foreign aircraft, helicopters, light tanks and light trucks to give greater power to PLA Airborne Forces.

 

Using foreign helicopter technology to enable improved indigenous helicopter development.

 

 



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