Just below, I express my shock caused by the disappearance of basic copy editing, blocking, and tackling at The New York TImes, but, in this article, I want to discuss substance.
The article on what President Nixon did in 1979 is, aside from that little slip, very interesting. It notes that people in Taiwan are worried about Xi Jin Ping (rationally) and don’t trust the USA to protect them (very very rational).
However, they don’t seem to feel the need to do much about these problems. “Not that he or other officials are solely lobbying for help. Taiwan’s 2024 budget included a jump in military spending to 2.5 percent of gross domestic product, or $19 billion. But its leaders have been slow to shift toward the drones, missiles and other asymmetrical weapons that, according to analysts, would be needed to hold off a Chinese amphibious invasion.”
*After* the jump, Taiwan spends about the same fraction of GDP on the military as the USA, but we are not claimed by a neighboring super power, oh and we are a super power, and come on are they scared or aren’t they.
I do what to stress “shift to drones and missiles”. I am not going to link to all the posts I have recently written about this. Ukraine has made it clear that a navy can be defeated with gound based anti-ship missiles and drones. Experts (who are not posting or even providing links here) argue that Taiwan can stop a Chinese amphibious invasion spending a few bucks, of which they have plenty since they have foreign exchange reserves of $570,600,000,000 sitting in banks (note a mere piddling $2,370,000,000 spent on truck mounted Harpoon missiles had a marked effect on the feasibility of a PRC amphibious invasion)
The gap between stated (fully rational) fear and actually doing something about the problem is amazing to me (and I have extensive experience in two of the least agile and efficient democratic systems in the world).
On the other side of Asia, there is a clear example of land based anti ship missiles and asymmetric warfare. In spite of US “cruiser missiles” the Houthi’s still have the capacity to attack ships in the red sea
“But the U.S. officials cautioned on Saturday that even after hitting more Houthi missile and drone targets with more than 150 precision-guided munitions, the strikes had damaged or destroyed only about 20 to 30 percent of the Houthis’ offensive capability, much of which is mounted on mobile platforms and can be readily moved or hidden.”
USA and Houthis in dubious battle may set a new world record in military asymmetry.
US weapons are not suited for dealing with “mobile platforms” that “can be readily moved or hidden”. They are designed to out dog fight the other sides fighter planes (needless to say there is no Houthi air force) and to not show up on radar except for world war II era radar.
When actually fighting, the USA relied on predator drones armed with hellfire missiles. However, when preparing the navy for war with a non landlocked adversary, the huge sums of money were spent on Aircraft Carrier Task force mainetenance and readiness (and the USS Gerald Ford just to stick with 1970s presidents) .
To fight “mobile platforms” which can be “readily moved and hidden” constant surveillance is required. Now when one is looking, one can be seen. The surveillance must be accomplished with craft which can be sacrificed, that is drones. Surveillance with piloted aircraft which take off from aircraft carriers will not get the job done — it isn’t World War II anymore.
In conclusion: Drones and missiles. No pilots. Soon no crew.