Predictions for the Chinese Navy’s (People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN) growth have often focused on the quantitative number of ships or submarines. Even recent commentary surrounding the PLAN describes it as the “world’s largest navy” in terms of the number of ships fielded, rather than using more sensible metrics such as tonnage.
A 22 class fast missile boat and an 052D class destroyer are both counted as “one” ship, but the difference between a 220 ton craft and a 7,000 ton surface combatant is significant.
Some future predictions for the PLAN have been more acknowledging of the qualitative advancements in addition to quantity. However, only a few commentaries have considered the number of each warship type which may be produced. This piece will seek to paint a picture of what the PLAN may look like in 2030 among major warship categories.