In general, historically, China has always been unlucky with its fleet, the steam fleet built with great difficulty at the end of the 19th century was destroyed by the Japanese, and attempts to revive it rested on money that was not there. Then there was the second Sino-Japanese war, where the Chinese fleet fought purely nominally. Yes, and in the PRC, things were not going very well - there was, of course, a successful landing on Hainan, but the fleet of the 40s-70s of the 20th century is a set of American (trophies from the Kuomintang), Soviet (seven destroyers held out as much until the 80s) and replicas of Soviet ships. And the TKA with medium diesel submarines, which looked good in the 50s, could have caused a pitiful smile by the year 1980. The navies of the USA and the USSR reigned on the seas, and the Pacific Fleet could defeat not only the Chinese fleet, but also China as a whole.
But everything flows, everything changes, and the collapse of the Land of Soviets and its fleet was the start for the Chinese Navy. The newest diesel submarines, Project 956 destroyers, the Varyag aircraft carrier, Su-33 carrier-based aircraft, communications, detection and weapons systems were exported by a wide river, and the Chinese, not suffering from the desire to get rid of the legacy of the damned past in the form of high-tech weapons and a unique design school, scooped up from this river as much as they could. And now it is quite interesting to compare the Chinese and Russian navies. Comparing the Pacific Fleet separately, reduced to a flotilla in terms of the number and serviceability of ships, is perhaps not worth it.
And we will start with the aircraft carriers, of which we have exactly one piece, and the piece is rather unfortunate and is under repair. The Chinese have a similar situation - both of their aircraft carriers are brothers of our "Kuznetsov", the only difference is that the "Liaolin" (ex-Varyag, our fleet is unlucky with this name) is a twin brother, and "Shandong" is also a brother, but slightly improved. Their planes, the J-15 are also clones, but of unknown quality, in the hands of the Chinese there was only a prototype of the Su-33 from Nikolaev. The Chinese are still building, in total, according to the plans, they envisage the construction of six ships, and from the third - equipped with electromagnetic catapults, but how it will be in practice, no one knows. It is possible that all the others will also be improved copies of the 1143.5 project. In the meantime, the PRC plans to use them in conjunction with basic aviation, which, as it were, hints at the absence of global plans at all. Whatever it was, against one "Kuzi" - two in the ranks, two in the building. In all of Europe, by the way, there are three full-fledged aircraft carriers.
The Chinese also have their own missile submarine, surrounded by a veil of secrecy. SSBNs of project 094 "Jin" are armed with solid-propellant ballistic missiles in the amount of 12-16 pieces, depending on the modification, there are six of them in service. The ships are controversial, especially of the first series, but with a range of weapons up to 8000 km, they can operate quite comfortably near the coast of the country, covered by a surface fleet and coastal aviation. In addition to them, the construction of SSBNs of project 096 "Teng" is underway with 24 ICBMs of a new type in service. There is really no data, the secrecy in the PLA Navy is at the level of the best Soviet times. In any case, with the Yom Kippur weapon, the Russian Federation is better, so far better, in the case of the construction of six new SSBNs while maintaining the existing ones, the PRC, not bound by strategic arms limitation treaties, will receive a naval component of the strategic nuclear forces comparable to the Russian Federation and the United States. And this matter, taking into account the speed of Chinese shipbuilders, a maximum of ten years.
It is more difficult with multipurpose nuclear submarines - project 093 "Shan" submarines, designed with the help of Rubin engineers and carrying cruise missiles, there is, it is not clear how many there are in pieces, according to plans ten, six are reliably known. In addition, project 095 is being designed or built, again in an unknown quantity and with incomprehensible characteristics. We can cautiously assume that in the end the Chinese expect to have 20-30 multipurpose boats in service. Just for reference - the US is planning 32 Virginias, Russia is planning eight Ash trees. In terms of quality, of course, the Chinese will be inferior, especially in matters of noise and weapons, but the very fact of building a nuclear submarine fleet equal to the United States and soon surpassing the Russian one says a lot. And the quality of the PRC will improve, the shipbuilding school is a matter of time.
With diesel boats, the PRC is also not lagging behind. In addition to 12 Russian diesel-electric submarines of projects 877 (two pieces) and 636 (10 pieces), there are their own diesel-electric submarines of pr. 039 "Sun" in the amount of 13 pieces and NNS of project 041 in the amount of 20 pieces. At the exit, we have 45 diesel submarines, of which 20 are equipped with air-independent units, with which we have a complete zero. Six diesel submarines of the 636 project are planned for the Pacific Fleet. Taking into account the development by the Chinese of a replica of the Caliber and anti-ship missiles for submarines, it is a formidable force and is capable of destroying any aggressor in the near sea zone, or delivering strikes to the Kyrgyz Republic according to the type of our actions in Syria.
China's airborne forces are not big, they are just huge. So, it is planned to eight UDC with a displacement of up to 40 thousand tons, of which two are already in service. They do not carry airplanes, the Soviet Yak-38 VTOL aircraft are unlikely to interest the Chinese, and they did not get access to the Harriers, apart from a copy purchased from a collector. Work is underway there, but at what stage and how successfully … China keeps its secrets. But helicopters, including those armed with light anti-ship missiles and UAVs, have a place to be. While we are PLANNING in 2027 (and the plans and reality are somewhat different in our country) to hand over two UDCs, the Chinese have passed a couple already, the rest are on the way. And the UDC is the very projection of power that the PRC is already capable of, we are not. And the Chinese still have a smaller UDC, project 071, in the amount of eight pieces. Four helicopters, two air-cushion vehicles and 800 Marines. Eight are already in the ranks. This is complemented by 30 TDKs and 11 SDKs. It is possible to compare the landing fleet of China … with the US Navy, Russia will not see such a level in the foreseeable future.
China officially does not have cruisers, but the destroyers of project 055 with a displacement of 13,000 tons and 112 airborne bombers are anything but destroyers. Eight, by the way. To them it is necessary to add 25 destroyers (17 + 8) 052D of 7,500 tons each and 64 UVP cells and 15 older destroyers, including four of our 956, which for some reason the Chinese turned out to be quite suitable for operation and modernization. As a result, we have - 8 URO cruisers and 40 destroyers. Of course, the air defense system is a replica of the S-300 and the French Crotal, of course, the anti-ship missiles are not ideal, but every time they do it better and better … they are already an order of magnitude ahead of our fleet.
In what China is especially strong, so in the light forces, given the fact that the PLA Navy emerged and developed as a coastal fleet. 32 Project 054 frigates each carrying 40 missiles (8 anti-ship missiles 32 missiles), 6 old frigates and 72 project 056 corvettes. Unlike us, sinners, the Chinese made a cheap and angry ship with 1300 tons of displacement, modular design and sharpened for anti-submarine defense … It turned out well, a lot, affordable and effective. Looking at our torment with the concept of a corvette and the construction of ships, which are still rather light frigates, without closing the niche of the corvette, one can only use foul language.
And the cherry on top of the PLA Navy's cake is Project 901 ocean support ships, while two more, it seems to me, are actively building, according to the number of aircraft carriers. They are complemented by 8 supply ships and three reconnaissance ships. And two more hospital ships, ten weapons transports, 5 ocean and 8 sea tugs, four icebreaker reconnaissance ships.
The Chinese are also working on strategic UAVs, both reconnaissance and strike.In general, it is controversial with aviation there - for example, the Chinese still keep in service the modernized Tu-16s, which they called Xian H-6. But at the same time, we have our own AWACS aircraft, including the study of deck and its own fleet of tankers. It's just a matter of time, the country that created the nuclear submarine and aircraft carrier fleets will cope.
China also has a good base - 12 bases in different regions of the Indian Ocean. In Tikhiy, for obvious reasons, the interests of the PRC do not extend very far, but this is fixable if there is money, political will and ships. In the Pacific and Indian oceans, the PRC is already capable of butting with the US Navy, I'm not talking about Russia, we are hopelessly behind the PLA Navy. The paradox is that our individual weapons systems are better, the school is stronger, and there are few ships. So the 21st century will be marked by the naval confrontation between China and the United States, and in this fight (God forbid, cold) we can only join one of the parties. The most offensive thing is that the Chinese fleet grew out of the Soviet fleet, the very one that we happily sawed, because it is ineffective and useless.