China is about to finish the current phase of destroyer construction. What comes next?
It seems that every year, English-language focus on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) increases in depth and scope. This has been reflected in some increasingly detailed and far-ranging predictions for the PLAN’s growth, most often in terms of the number of ships it may field in whatever particular year in the near future. This author is not immune, and has written similar pieces in the past.
As of mid-2020, a number of PLAN surface combatant programs are either drawing to a close or about to shift gear. As various other major navies around the world begin to implement their own surface combatant programs and evaluations of their own future force structure, it is useful to reflect on where the PLAN’s own force balance will be in immediate future once the current phase of construction enters service – and what comes after.
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