efense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday said that the Pentagon
plans to have over 500 Navy
ships in its fleet by 2045 to counter China
’s growing military ambitions and other threats.
Esper mentioned the objective while outlining a broader naval force roadmap, dubbed “Battle Force 2045,” in remarks at a virtual event hosted by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank in Washington.
“Battle Force 2045 calls for a more balanced Navy of over 500 manned and unmanned ships,” Esper said, adding that he envisions support to naval operation from unmanned aircraft “of every type,” including refueling, electronic warfare, and airborne early warning.
“The Chinese Communist Party … intends to complete the modernization of its armed forces by 2035 and to field a world-class military by 2049,” Esper said. “At that time, Beijing wants to achieve parity with the United States Navy, if not exceed our capabilities in certain areas and to offset our overmatch in several others.”
Announcement of the plan comes 9 months after Esper took control of naval force planning.
“Further, we will reach 355 traditional battle force ships prior to 2035, the time at which the PRC aims to fully modernize its military. And most importantly, we now have a credible path for reaching 355-plus ships in an era of fiscal constraint,” Esper added, referring to China by its official acronym.
He said in a tweet that the Pentagon plan proposes a future fleet “that optimizes 1. distributed lethality & awareness 2. survivability in a high-intensity conflict 3. adaptability for a complex world 4. abili….