Aviation Week says that while the PLA dreams of the day when their fleet of aircraft carriers, stealth fighters and hypersonic anti-carrier missles can park off California and play "Rolling Thunder" bombing targets in California and Washington and have a re-do of Pearl Harbor Chinese style, they have a LONG LONG way to go to even reach parity with European powers let alone the mighty US Navy.
(On the other hand, in case you haven't noticed, England, not so long ago queen of the seas for most recorded history is going to hell in a handbasket, they're scrapping their Harrier carriers and selling their neat Harrier force to the US for parts, and they grounded and scrapped all their Nimrod patrol aircraft. The other Navy we haven't heard much about, the Phillipines really is a pathetic excuse for an armed forces that can barely stand up to Al Queda, let alone China)
China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) is modernizing. It has acquired an aircraft carrier, developed at least one unmanned aerial vehicle, and a stealth fighter, and is trying its hand at public relations.
During a trip to China by French defense journalists in September, Gen. Chen Zhou, author of China's defense white paper published in March, said with some humor, "We are learning military transparency but can't do it overnight, and it does have limits as we cannot put state security in peril." Hence, there was no mention of Taiwan, details of the aircraft carrier, missiles or the nation's space program during the tour.
A recurring theme of the PLA hosts was the technology gap between China and the West. Chen claimed the PLA "has a 25-30-year technology gap. We haven't even completed the mechanization process and now we have to move into the digital age. Digitalization [of military equipment] is our biggest technological challenge."
Gen. Qian Lihua, director of the defense ministry's foreign affairs bureau, said "our technological means and talents lag far behind those of Western nations. We are still in the primary phase of digitalization." He added that "we would like the countries of the European Union to sell us high technology."
Now what most people don't notice is that there is a 25-30 year tech gap compared to our NEWEST equipment like the F-22 which we can't afford to buy more than a token batch. Never mind that the entire fleet is grounded because they have a nasty habit of asphyxiating the pilots which our old Phantoms and Eagles never did. But most of what we are flying (A-10, AV-8, F-15, F-16, F-18, F/A-80E/F Superbug) is that old or derived from it ISs 25-30 year old technology, and we're cutting back. The 3-in-1 F-35 (It's a STOVL jump jet, it's a carrier fighter, it's a multi-role Phantom replacement) looks like a marvelous plane, but it's crazy overpriced and oversized when it's the size of the old F-105 Thud (previously known as the world's largest single engine fighter) to replace the A-10/F-16/F-18 which were supposed to be LIGHT WEIGHT INEXPENSIVE fighters.
This report doesn't even look at the state of strategic forces. The Russians still are building lots of scary advanced ICBMs, and the Chinese are finally building a credible fleet of submarines and SLBMs comparable to our 1st or 2nd generation Polaris / Poseidon missles, and they've been capable of PUTTING ICBMS ON A GOOD PORTION OF THE CONTINENTAL US LIKE SEATTLE for YEARS AND NOBODY HAS NOTICED. Again, a 25-30 year gap isn't a problem unless the US is deploying MINUTEMAN AND POSEIDON MISSLES THAT ARE 25-30 YEARS OLD WITH NO PLAN FOR UPGRADE OR REPLACEMENT.
Bottom line, China is still way, way behind the US and Europe if they want to send troops all over the planet to fight for or against Jiahd in Afghanistan or Libya though they are perfectly capable of scaring the heck of of their closeby neighbors in Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and Phillipines. But they are nearing parity in number of ships, and their newest ships look very formidable. If we keep on giving them more money to build iPhones and cheap Walmart crap and do research for Microsoft and Hewlett Packard, they will continue to build up their military to when they will be able to cause at least as much military mischief as is usually attributed to our boys.