, is coming out. By August Cole and Eastern Arsenal’s very own P.W. Singer, it’s a novel about what might happen if the brewing Cold War between the U.S. and China were ever to turn hot. Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War
Here’s a handy visual guide to the arsenal of the Directorate—China’s fictional new government:
The Zheng He, one of the first Type 055 cruisers, serves as the proud flagship for the joint Sino-Russian naval taskforce in the north Pacific. As the pride of the Directorate’s naval forces, the Zheng He can carry 128 long range anti-air, anti-ship and land attack missiles, as well as a big 130mm cannon.
The H/PJ-38 cannon is the main gun found on Type 052D destroyers and the might Type 055 cruiser. It fires 90kg shells at distances of over 30km, making it good not just for shore bombardment, but also for long range gunnery duels with enemy warships in a pinch.
The first 052D destroyer, the 7,500 ton Kunming, was launched in late 2013 and commissioned in March 2014 (its hull number, 172, was not painted on then). The 052D, a modern destroyer with better primary radars than current AEGIS warships, serves as the mainstay of the PLAN, and later the Directorate Navy.
Holographic Ground Control Station
The Holographic Ground Control Station (GCS), displayed at the Zhuhai 2014 Airshow, allows for other personal to observe the drone pilot’s operations. A holographic control station on a major warship, like say the Type 055, creates an immersive but accessible way for commanders to get a grasp of the big picture without drowning in abstract data.
VR Headsets put PLANAF Pilots into 3D
Right now, Chinese pilots use 3D headsets to train in a virtual reality (VR) enabled environment. As VR sets grow in capability, military personnel and hackers could use them not for practice, but as essential equipment for doing everything from calling in airstrikes to hacking enemy networks.
The Jiaolong (Flood Dragon) is a 3-person deep sea submersible that can dive down to 7,500 meters below the ocean surface to investigate the seabed. The Directorate’s usage of deep sea submersible is actually the first step to the next great Pacific war.
This CGI of the Tiangong 3 space station shows three Tiangong space station modules, a Shenzhou manned module underneath and a Tianzhou automated resupply vehicle all docked together. The new Chinese spaceship would likely replace the Shenzhou in the 2020-2025 timeframe.
This new Chinese exoskeleton is both strong and agile enough to support its wearer engaging in high side kicking, flexibility is a key requirement for infantry power armor. Directorate troops wear exoskeletons on the streets of occupied territory, giving them agile strength for carrying heavy weapons and sprint apprehend to errant NSM activists.
The ZH-05 is China’s smart rifle, succeeding where the US Army’s OICW failed. With fancy sights, a programmable grenades set for directional fragmentation and airburst explosives, and a hard hitting 5.8mm rifle under the grenade launcher, the ZH-05 will give Directorate forces a high tech edge against any urban insurgent in the world.
The ZTZ-99A tank, is China’s most modern and heavily protected tank. While its 125mm main cannon is perfectly deadly against other tanks, its thick armor and planned remote weapons station makes it a contender for urban warfare in a pinch.
The Z-10, like other modern attack helicopters, carries a wide variety of missiles and rockets like the HJ-10 anti-tank missile, as well as its 23mm chain gun, which can spit out about 600 8oz shells a minute. While usually a land based attack helicopter, with the right amount of derring do and ingenuity, it can be based off a wide range of ships, naval or disguised civilian, for attacks from the sea.
The high altitude, long endurance Soaring Dragon UAV uses a unique box wing design to reduce drag, thus increasing its fuel efficiency and flight time endurance. Its long flight time and high flight altitude makes it well suited to continuously patrol large areas of ocean surface for any suspicious or hostile activity.
The DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (AShBM) is the breakout star of the Chinese anti-access arsenal. While the current DF-21D can only reach the western portions of the Pacific, hypersonic glider vehicles on future AShBMs descendants would extend their range well into at least the central Pacific.
VTAS already offers Chinese military aerostats (blimp like balloons tethered to a ground station). Flying at thousands of meters above the ground, aerostats can pack a wide range of sensors, such as acoustic gunshot detectors (great for nabbing insurgents), radars to spot cruise missiles and ships, and infrared sensors to notice unauthorized persons in restricted zones.
Team Grit’s Cogburn robot crawls into rubble and wreckage to look for survivors. While this DARPA Challenge entrant has benign purposes, Directorate forces in the future repurpose similar legged robots to hunt for insurgents in urban environments.
China is already home to many of the world’s leading consumer drone builders, like DIY, not to mention a booming military robotics sector. As quadcopter drones get larger, cheaper and smarter, putting guns on them to hunt insurgents and other “bad actors” will be the next logical step.
This Ewatt Technology SVU-200 robot helicopter (designed by the American Fetters Aerospace) can carry 200 kg of payload while traveling at 209km per hour in the sky. What’s even more amazing is that it was displayed in Washington DC during a 2013 drone exhibition. Along with other Chinese drone helicopters such as the NORINCO Sharp Eyes III, they’ll become the flexible eyes (and striking fist) of small military units.
Chinese PL-12 and the even longer ranged PL-21 are long-ranged missiles usually mounted on Chinese aircraft. But with ramjet engines to improve maneuverability (not to mention some covert modifications), the PL-12D and PL-21 would make deadly ground- and drone-launched surprises against even the most modern stealth fighters.
The H200 is one of China’s first phased array radars, but remains just as deadly. While originally paired with the KS-1 surface to air missile, its compact design makes it mobile enough to be placed quickly into urban settings, where with the right soft and hard upgrades, it could guide even deadlier missiles.
This speculative CGI compares the current Y-20 prototype with the smaller D-30 engines at the bottom, while the more powerful and efficient WS-20 engined Y-20 is at the top. Directorate forces use the WS-20 to shuttle around VIPs, as well as to quickly stage out and rotate paratroops, tanks and other reinforcements on expeditionary and occupation missions.
2015 in Flight
2015 made its first flight on December 19, 2014. At this point in the J-20’s development, the design is essentially fixed, though the AL-31 engines are likely to be swapped for more powerful Chinese WS-15 turbofans by 2019.
Liaoning Task Force
Since its commissioning in 2012, the Liaoning has been very active at sea, including naval exercises with other Chinese warships, including the 052C guided missile destroyer “171”, seen in the background. Getting the most experience from its first aircraft carrier is a vital step for China to build a world class navy with airpower projection and joint operational capability.
Gaoshan, a famous CGI artist of Chinese aircraft, shows two J-15 “Flying Shark” carrier fighters with full loads of anti-air and anti-ship missiles. The J-15 can take off from the ski ramps of the Liaoning and Type 001A with a decent mixed payload of air-to-air missiles, guided bombs and fuel, but it could carry much more if it operated on a catapult-equipped aircraft carrier.
Built as a lower end complement to the famous J-20, the J-31 stealth fighter can be staged out of airfields, as well as providing a stealthy punch for Chinese aircraft carriers. Their ease of maintenance and powerful antiship missiles makes them a good choice for island defense.
The YJ-12 is China’s deadliest air launched anti-ship missile. With a range over 400km miles, the missile travels at speeds above Mach 3.5, meaning that once it flies from out of the horizon, the target ship has only less than 10 seconds to respond with last ditch defenses like Gatling cannons.