While unmanned aerial vehicles get lots of press for their role in Afghanistan, unmanned underwater vehicles have also come into their own recently. Professor Goldstein and Shannon Knight discuss how China sees such vehicles as a way to close the perceived gap with the United States in undersea warfare capabilities. Finally, Professor Erickson offers an illuminating, detailed overview of the increasingly rapid growth of China's satellite-surveillance program, which is developing a capability for monitoring the country's near seas with pinpoint accuracy.
China's antiship ballistic missile has been on everyone's radar for the last year. Naval observers have varied opinions (some of which have appeared in this journal) on the level of threat it represents to the U.S. Navy, especially its carrier strike groups. From the West Coast, Craig Hooper and Christopher Albon attempt to bring the hysteria under control while pointing out that the missile presents a greater danger to regional navies than our own. They offer sound advice on how to deal with it.
But retired Navy Commander John Patch comes right back and focuses on a ship that should be keeping the Navy up at night. The Houbei is diminutive in size, but the weapons she carries, namely long-range fourth-generation antiship cruise missiles, would present a formidable challenge, for example, in any scenario involving the United States in the defense of Taiwan.
Lieutenant Commander Leah Amerling-Bray, the assistant naval attach é to China, warns us that the United States may be viewing warfare through an outdated lens. She says we must move away from a focus on firepower, and, like the Chinese, adopt an "informationalized" approach to warfare.
Navy Commander Jerry Hendrix, no stranger to our pages, resurfaces the notion of Influence Squadrons that he advanced a year ago and what role they might play in strategy vis-a-vis China. This time, he draws an interesting parallel between baseball's on-base percentage and naval presence in the form of his squadrons.
My sincere thanks to all the China watchers who either advised on or contributed to this issue. We've only scratched the surface of this topic. There were many subjects we didn't have the space to cover, so a follow-on focus is in the future - and sooner rather than later.
Our China issue has taken a while to come together, but we like to think the best things in life are worth waiting for.