May 11, 2014

China's Achilles' Heel discovered: Air Defense Gap

Days after China declared an air defense identification zone on Nov. 23 over the East China Sea, the US Air Force flew two B-52 bombers over the area as a challenge to China’s claim and a message of deterrence to Beijing that the US is aware of China’s weak links along its air defense network.
Two separate groups control the coastal radar perimeter along China’s coast: the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and the PLA Air Force (PLAAF).
The weakest link in China’s air defense network is where these two meet — PLAN’s Second Radar Brigade in Zhejiang province’s Cangnan City, and PLAAF’s Fourth Radar Brigade in Fujian province’s Fuding City, along the border of Zhejiang province.
This gap runs along the southern line of the East China Sea air identification zone.
These “holes” along China’s coast would allow US air power to knock out “critical nodes” that serve as the command-and-control hubs of radars and surface-to-air missiles. The US must destroy these single points of failure before continuing with attacks on other Chinese military threats, such as cruise missile and short-range ballistic missile units.
The one exception to this rule is the large phased array radar at Zhejiang, which is not under PLAN or PLAAF control. This facility is responsible for space signal intelligence collection and belongs to the PLA’s General Staff Department.

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