Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Didn't Read the Story, Eh Editor?

I was really interested in reading about why China's new, huge, amphibious warfare hovercraft are useless against Taiwan, as the headline says:

Ukrainian-built hovercraft may be too fast or too big for operations in the South China Sea and Taiwan, say foreign military experts

They're just "giant toys," the story blares from the top.

I thought the Zubr craft would be useful for Taiwan invasion scenarios. What am I missing here?

Taiwanese defence minister Wu Shih-wen, who patrolled the South China Sea when he was a naval officer between the 1960s and 1980s, said LCACs were not suitable for use in the South China Sea.

"All the islands involved in the territorial disputes between Beijing, Taipei and other Southeast Asian countries are tiny islets, with some even smaller than a ship," he said.

Okay, I'm fine with that. I thought that they could be useful for high-speed dashes in the South Chinas Sea. But I didn't know their range limitations. Assuming China can't stage them forward, distance and islet size make Zubr LCACs useless in the South China Sea, this says. And in the East China Sea, too, the article says.

But what about the restrictions that would make them useless for Taiwan? Ah, here we go:

Antony Wong Dong, of the Macau-based International Military Association, said that because of their range and speed limitations, the LCACs would be capable only of playing an important role in amphibious operations against Taiwan and the Diaoyu Islands, with other potential theatres too far away.

The Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu) are close enough for a one-way trip only. So China would need refueling for that scenario.

But clearly, the Zubr vessels are fine for Taiwan. So how on earth did the editors settle on that headline that dismisses the hover craft as useless? Is this just propaganda to minimize their role in the strait?