The U.S. has consistently been ahead of China when comparing militaries, but is Cina starting to catch up? Read on for a look at why exactly China’s military is so powerful in 2018.
1. China could be the first country to develop a warship with a railgun
Based on photos that surfaced in February 2018, it’s looking like China may possibly be the first country to develop a warship with a devastating weapon called a railgun. A banner on the ship reads: “Provide the first-class naval weapon & equipment for building the first-class navy in the world.”
“A railgun is a futuristic weapon that fires a projectile by supplying two parallel, conductive rails with a powerful electric charge, creating a magnetic field. The projectile, likely some sort of missile, is placed between the rails and is launched at supersonic speeds through the barrel by an electromagnetic reaction known as Lorentz force. The result can be devastating for conventional armor and defences,” reports Newsweek.
2. The U.S. has its own railgun
China’s not the only country with a railgun, but it is the only country with the weapon on a warship. America has it’s own railgun, but it’s completely based on land. It can fire kinetic energy projectiles over 4,500 miles per hour, but the U.S. has, reportedly, struggled to get the weapon out to sea.
3. China is catching up to the U.S. military
For many years, the U.S. has been considered the leader in military power and technology. But with recent developments, including this railgun, China seems to be catching up in a big way. “China is still on the way to catch up to the western countries, the railgun just embodied their great endeavor,” dagang cao told Newsweek.
4. China has more military personnel than the U.S.
In 2016, the U.S. had 1.3 million active duty military personnel, and 811,000 in reserve. Compare that to China’s 2.3 million active military members, and a half-million in reserve. Numbers-wise, we’re outnumbered.
5. Cyber warfare
Like many components of China’s military techniques, what they’re capable of in terms of cyber warfare is a huge secret. We do know, though, that China has up to 130,000 people in various cyber-warfare divisions ready to go. With these divisions, they could be capable of taking control of electronics in other countries, hack government databases, and launch coordinated disinformation campaigns.
6. The U.S. and India are teaming up to counter China’s military moves
During a diplomatic conference that took place early April 2018, U.S.-Indian relations was a hot topic of discussion with the intent of hopefully countering China’s aggressive military moves.
“Several in attendance spoke openly on the sidelines with The Washington Times about a China-inspired urgency for increased U.S.-Indian military ties and a more robust democracy- and capitalism-driven development and foreign investment plan to counter Beijing’s surging regional influence,” reported The Washington Times.
7. China is estimated to have around 250 nuclear warheads
Though China’s exact nuclear capacity is a state secret, independent estimates put the number of warheads the country has at somewhere between 250 and 260. According to Ranker, these warheads “could easily hit the West Coast of the US, having between 45 and 50 long range missiles, with possibly double that number coming online before 2020.”
8. China’s air force plane fleet is growing
Though China still has substantially fewer aircrafts than the U.S., The People’s Liberation Army Air Force is certainly growing. According to Wikipedia, their fleet includes 3,000 jet aircrafts, including 1,200 fighters and 1,300 attach planes. Not only are they growing, PLAAF has been working on modernizing in recent decades, focusing on things like sophisticated fighter planes, bombs, surveillance, and new helicopters.
9. China has two stealth fighters in the works
The U.S. and Russia used to be the only countries with stealth fighters or stealth fighter prototypes. But China just joined the club. “Both planes have working development models, and could be in active service by 2018. In addition, China is working on a long-range stealth bomber available by 2020, a secretive project known only as H-20,” reports Ranker.
10. We still aren’t sure how big their military budget is
As with many things in war, what you don’t know is often scarier than what you do. Something the U.S. still isn’t sure of to this day is China’s military budget. Sure, the Chinese government gives an annual report of their spending on internal security and defense, but it’s largely assumed that these numbers as inaccurate.
11. The Chinese navy has secret submarines with nukes inside
“The Chinese Navy’s Yulin Naval Base might be able to hold as many as 20 nuclear submarines, and it’s located underground, next to a small already-existing base, in a critical location at the mouth of the South China Sea,” reports Ranker. What’s more, is that China has never even acknowledged that Yulin exists — it’s completely secret. If they’re so secretive about their Yulin base, what else don’t we know about?
12. They’re catching up to us on tanks
“China’s ground forces have between six and seven thousand tanks, a mix of modern main battle tanks and Cold War era knockoffs,” says Ranker. “China also has thousands of self-propelled artillery pieces, armored personnel carriers, and other modern vehicles.” The U.S. has roughly 8,800 tanks, but China is certainly catching up.
13. Chinese soldiers strive for perfection
It’s pretty common knowledge that the Chinese military expects nothing short of perfection from their soldiers. According to Wikipedia, soldiers are taught posture and discipline with the use of pins in their collars, cap-balancing, crosses tied behind their back, and severe discipline for those who fall out of synch.
14. They have huge Zubr-class hovercraft tank landing ships
The Zubr-class hovercraft tank landing ships that China has are three times bigger than the U.S. version. It can land three tanks, eight APCs, or about 400 troops on almost any beach environment. It also comes loaded with a plethora of missiles and fast-firing guns. China’s bought two of these landing ships from the Ukraine and built two more.
15. China has a Russian aircraft carrier
“China didn’t have the technical expertise to build its own aircraft carrier, so it did the next best thing: bought a bunch of old ones and reverse engineered them. While China bought several hulked carriers from Australia and Russia (one of which became a floating hotel), a private firm bought another and gave it to the Chinese Navy. That ship was renamed Liaoning, and was rebuilt using knowledge gained from other carriers,” reports Ranker. “Now in service, Liaoning is the first of what China plans to be a large fleet of carriers to compete with the US Navy’s 12 carrier battle groups.”