Oh hey, look what I found. Taken on a trip to San Francisco, where I went yachting in the bay (rich new uncle- the trip was for a wedding). It just so happened that the Varyag, a Russian guided missile cruiser, was in port. Got a good view of it’s carrier-killer missiles and 30mm CIWS guns. There were also a pair of Japanese supply ships, flying the old sunburst ensign. Pretty surreal.


H Ναυαρχίδα του Στόλου του Ειρηνικού προστατεύει τη ρωσική αεροπορική βάση στη Συρία! (βίντεο)

Το ρωσικό καταδρομικό κλάσης Slava, Varyag, έχει αναπτυχθεί σε κατάσταση συναγερμού κοντά στην ακτή της Συρίας, παρέχοντας αεράμυνα για τη βάση Hmeymim, που χρησιμοποιείται για την αντιτρομοκρατική επιχείρηση της Μόσχας στη χώρα.

Playing Catch Up

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the US still owns the world’s most powerful military. Washington’s military spending last year dwarfs any other nation’s, almost three times as much as the defense budgets of France, UK, Russia and Japan combined.

But one country is catching up: China. In 2010 it spent $119 billion for its military, which is equal to 2.1% of its GDP. China has a nuclear arsenal whose size is comparable to that of the UK and France. It holds a permanent seat in the Security Council.

China has a troop count advantage over the US. Obviously this advantage can run into the hundreds of millions if we take into account all the available manpower.

But this advantage is easily nullified by the air and naval power of the Americans. True, China and the US have about the same number of submarines, but that’s it. The US has more combat aircraft, cruisers, destroyers and frigates. Most importantly, the Americans have more aircraft carriers - 11 in all.

Just to give you an idea of the kind of dominance the US wields in the high seas, the 21 aircraft carriers in active service in the world right now are maintained by nine navies. The US aside, no country owns more than two carriers. Italy and Spain have two each, but these are “smaller” types of carriers.

The US on the other hand has a fleet of so-called supercarriers, the largest warships ever built. Only two other nations have supercarriers: France and Russia. And each of them operates only one.

Its carriers give the US the capacity to wage and sustain a distant war. It can, in a very short time, deploy a huge number of men, weapons, helicopters, planes and supplies to any part of the globe.

China understands this, of course. This is why it purchased and refurbished a decommissioned Russian carrier called the Varyag. Reports say the warship is ready and is now being tested by the Chinese navy.

Nobody was surprised at how China barged into the elite club of carrier-operating navies. But everybody just got a little more tense.