Within weeks, US troops would run out of rocket and grenade ammunition should a war break out over Taiwan with China. And not only that: Beijing has more modern propellants and explosives at its disposal.
Recently, Report24 reported how the United States is gradually falling behind China in terms of air force in the Asia-Pacific region. But that’s not the only problem for Washington, which keeps threatening war with China should Beijing launch an invasion of Taiwan. Because the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is gradually gaining the upper hand in another area as well: explosives and propellant charges for grenades.
The US is in danger of losing firepower to China as explosives and propellant production declines in the US and increases in China. This month, Forbes reported that China has overtaken the US in developing new types of explosives. This is particularly true of his version of CL-20, an explosive developed in the 1980s that is 40 percent more powerful than RDX or HMX and has been widely used in US munitions since World War II.
The report mentions that China tested the CL-20 counterpart in 2011 and has since mass-produced the explosive. In contrast, as the article points out, nearly all US military explosives are manufactured at a US Army facility in Holston, Tennessee. The Americans use mixed systems and production techniques in the style of the Second World War. It also notes that newer explosives such as CL-20 cannot be made using these outdated methods. They are produced in smaller quantities in chemical reactors.
The report also mentions that the US can produce 10 tons of CL-20 per year with its current supply of basic chemicals. However, widespread use of CL-20 requires a production rate of 1,000 tons per year, with US industry taking three to five years to convert. But that’s not the only problem for the US defense industry.
Forbes also notes that the US is dependent on China for its sole source of half a dozen chemical ingredients used in its military explosives and propellants. Such dependence also exists on other countries of concern, which are important for another dozen explosives. This calls into question the security of US logistics chains.
The article also mentions that in the event of a Taiwan conflict, the US will face a larger number of Chinese missiles, some of which have greater power and range due to new explosives and propellants developed by China that burn more efficiently than everyone else in the US arsenal.
China has also developed thermobaric weapons that use atmospheric oxygen as an oxidizer for an aerosolized explosive. Thermobaric weapons produce a much larger and more powerful explosion than conventional explosives, followed by a devastating vacuum effect. In November 2022, The Warzone reported that China had developed a huge air-dropped thermobaric bomb, similar to the US GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) or the Russian Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power (ATBIP) resembles. The report notes that this weapon is the most powerful conventional bomb in China’s arsenal. Their large and powerful explosion can obliterate fortified ground targets, create instant landing zones for helicopters, or serve as a potent psychological weapon due to its sheer destructive power.
So we not only see an obviously significantly higher firepower in the People’s Liberation Army, but also longer ranges and better efficiency. In addition, in the event of war, the Americans would no longer be able to stock up on sufficient chemical raw materials to keep up the production of their propellants for rockets and grenades. Not to forget that the People’s Republic is also significantly more advanced than the United States in terms of hypersonic technology, so that all US military bases (and those of the allies) in the region could be reduced to rubble within a few days in an emergency.
In view of these facts, the question arises as to whether the United States would have any chance at all of winning a Taiwan war by conventional means. And if not, will the nuclear option be considered?
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