The F-35 versus X numbers comparision

The F-35 compared with other modern jets.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline

arian

Banned

  • Posts: 1293
  • Joined: 23 Dec 2014, 09:25

Unread post09 Jun 2017, 00:08

weasel1962 wrote:
arian wrote:Do tell, what is the purchasing power parity conversion for....military technology?

It's not the same as PPP conversion for the overall economy. That's based on a basket of good the average person buys. The average person isn't buying jet engines.


This is a very good point worth addressing. I would think the PPP for mil-tech would only be realised in combat and only when the US loses. For example, there is obviously no PPP ratio for Iraqi freedom or desert storm since the US overspends Iraq by a factor of 50-1 so how much of the win was quantitative and how much qualitative? Its not an issue when its 50-1 but is it an issue at 3-1?

Does the USAF want to risk finding out that the actual PPP only in combat or combat that issue even in peacetime? Ultimately, my point is when near peers appear, its not just about increasing military budgets but also getting the most bang for the buck. Are the Chinese getting the most bang out of their Yuans? Merely stating the obvious.


I'm not sure I understand your point, as you haven't stated anything "obvious" here, or stated much of anything other than in vague general terms. So if you could make your point more clearly and specifically (ie provide specifics), then perhaps I can understand and respond better.

Yes, Chinese stuff is cheaper. That doesn't tell us much. You're talking about comparing technical capabilities, not "PPP". Speaking purely of money, and comparisons across countries on money...completely leaves out technical capability or any unit of comparison that relies on technical capabilities.

For some things it may be obvious: an apple in the US is the same as an apple in China (apple as in the fruit). Although even there, it may certainly not be the case (a US apple may be 50% bigger, or people in China may not really eat apples at all). But for other things the comparison is done purely on some arbitrary unit of comparison, for example housing. One compares how much someone in the US spends on housing, and how much someone in China spends on housing. Ok. But obviously, a "house" in the US is quite different from a "house" in China. In terms of size (it may be 4-5 times bigger in the US), in terms of quality, in terms of accessories and amenities etc etc. All of this is lost in such...monetary...comparisons, even IF they try and compare "apples to apples". But they're not really apples to apples since you're not really comparing things of similar qualities, just things of similar function.

Not to imply that everything in the US would be better in technical or quality dimensions. The same can be true in China for other goods. But the point is, PPP and other such things compare in terms of function, not quality or technical dimensions.

Translating all this to the military domain, the technical and quality dimensions are absolutely essential in determining whether you win or lose. We understand this intuitively without any need for further explanation.

Second thing, you keep talking about "bang for your buck". Bang for your buck doesn't matter in war. What matters in war is: will you reliably defeat the enemy or not. If I have to outspend the enemy 50 times to guarantee that I will defeat him, then I win. The enemy may well have gotten a better "bang for your buck", but he's dead so who cares :wink:

A Honda Civic is excellent "bang for your buck". But it will be defeated 100% of the time on a race track by a Ferrari which is absolutely atrocious "bang for your buck".

What matters in military terms is winning. Not being economical. Being economical may help you in doing the winning, absolutely. But it is only one of several things that may aid you in doing so. As an example, the Chinese (not to pick on them, this can be anyone), may make a radar that is 20x cheaper than a US radar, but if the US radar has that small technical edge that will increase the chances of US fighters defeating Chinese fighters by 10% every time, then it matters absolutely nothing that the Chinese radar is 20x cheaper. Or that they have more.

XanderCrews is absolutely right: you picked the German example to demonstrate that lots of inferior quality equipment can defeat better equipment....despite the fact that there are many more examples of the opposite (e.g. Israel). And even in your own example of Germany, I'm not sure anyone would argue that the Mustangs and P-47s and B-17s and B-24s and P-38s were technically inferior to the Germans. So I'm not sure Germany was defeated by "technically inferior" opponents (whether the US or the Soviets)

PS: And more importantly, China has yet to demonstrate any technical capability that isn't a direct copy of some Russian system, or some Israeli system etc. Ie we're not talking of them doing something beyond the pale of expectation. It would be shocking if Chinese planes didn't have targeting pods in 2017, given that it's 2017.
Offline

arian

Banned

  • Posts: 1293
  • Joined: 23 Dec 2014, 09:25

Unread post09 Jun 2017, 00:28

You're from Singapore so you should understand that you've got the relationship backwards if you think that because wages are lower in China, you can get more in China and better "bang for your buck". If you really believed that, you'd live in Malaysia where wages and cost of living is so much lower than Singapore. But you live in Singapore, because you understand that the reason you get paid more in Singapore is because the quality of life is so much higher. Wages are higher where you're more productive, not the other way around.

PS: Also, your argument would be somewhat more valid if indeed China DID have a numerical superiority, even if it had technical inferiority. But it doesn't have numerical superiority either. US numerical superiority is rather obscene.
Offline

weasel1962

Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2191
  • Joined: 07 Jun 2012, 02:41
  • Location: Singapore

Unread post09 Jun 2017, 04:08

Guys, just want to make it clear I never proposed that technology can’t defeat numbers. Iraqi Freedom is a case in point. The US deployed like a third of what the Iraqis fielded, the result is clear. The guys with more & better equipment, better training tends to win wars. No doubts there. And for those who lack a certain ability to read English it means, I agree. However, there are instances replete in history that the guys with better equipment didn’t win wars. 1950s Korea, 1970s Vietnam are more recent examples. You can call it selective to highlight instances. I call it ignoring history not to highlight those instances.

Again in history, there was also an instance where a country decided economics wasn’t so important. That spending XX times the opponent so long as the opponent died justify the expenditure. That country was the Soviet Union. Guess what happened to them?

The biggest killer of US fighter inventory post 1990 has not been an aggressor but inability to manage budgets.

On the point of comparisons, agree, its not easy to get an Apples to Apples comparison. Countries like China don’t have access to the same technology so they can’t buy the same aircraft even if they wanted to. However, to assume that just because one has the plane that has the better performance again doesn’t guarantee a victory. The Harrier is another example in history that demonstrates this. In theory, the Harrier didn’t fly as fast, were outranged in 1982 by missiles like the Matra 530, no AEW yet still shot down their opponents.

Again, I better make another point clear before someone puts words into my mouth again. I don’t think China has the capability to contest US airpower today. Sure, US has numerical superiority in fighter numbers.

However, and what some posters choose not to acknowledge (selective?)

(i) the capability gap has narrowed dramatically
(ii) the capability gap will continue to narrow
(iii) and if R&D trends continue, there is no reason why the capability cannot be surpassed
(iv) the Chinese defense budget has continually increased at a far higher pace than the US
(v) the Chinese GDP surpasses the US in PPP terms
(vi) the Chinese GDP gap to the US in nominal terms has also narrowed
(vii) the Chinese are fielding capabilities that used to be the sole purview of western powers.
(viii) And yes, the Chinese have a much lower manufacturing cost than the US.
(ix) And what is as important but not highlighted, their cost is lower at the same stage of US GDP development than what US costs were when US had the same level of GDP as China today.

And to respond to Arian’s challenge, a capability that China that is not copied and potentially matches US today? Lasers.
And on the issue of Malaysia, the reality on the ground is that many companies including US MNCs have moved their operations from Singapore to lower cost countries like Malaysia because their manufacturing and salary costs are lower, regardless of how much I earn or want to earn. If I am not wrong, same applied in the US.

The points I am making also applies in the commercial world. I know of a US manufacturer that makes the best oil and gas drill pipes in the world. The technology enables the pipes to go deep into ground and then retrieved so the pipes can be reused. The manufacturer never set up a China plant because of copy worries (good plan but ended up with expensive products). They could never sell the pipes in China either. Why? The Chinese versions were low tech and had a higher risk of being stuck and lost in the ground. But if the pipes were stuck, the Chinese didn’t care. They would just drill another hole and put another pipe in because their pipes were of much lower cost. They got the job done with lower technology. That’s how I think the Chinese think.
Offline

hornetfinn

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3066
  • Joined: 13 Mar 2013, 08:31
  • Location: Finland

Unread post09 Jun 2017, 11:34

Problem with the whole notion of Chinese thinking that quantity will beat quality is that China is also more and more going for quality instead of quantity when it comes to military equipment. Numbers for tanks, artillery, ships, submarines aircraft etc. have continuously gone down and that has actually happened faster than in USA. Their quality is clearly getting better fast, but since quality of their equipment has been very low, it's to be expected. They have a lot less modern aircraft, submarines, ships, tanks etc. than they used to have or how many USA does and it will take a long time to build up significantly. I don't see any proof that Chinese can produce military equipment significantly cheaper than USA. They spend less money on military and have also significantly less modern equipment. Modern equipment is complex and takes a lot of time to manufacture. Then it takes a lot of effort to build a support infastructure for them and train all the personnel to handle the equipment well. Currently they seem to be content with lower numbers and better quality. Like this:

Image

Another thing is that in oil and gas drill pipes you might get away with significantly lower performance and worse reliability but in war similar approach will mean easy defeat. Low tech approach doesn't work in many applications. Good luck producing low tech passanger aircraft or integrated circuits or even computers and cell phones. How many cell phones with Chinese designed and manufactured components have you seen? All their commercial computers and cell phones have been designed and assembled in China but with Western (Japan, Taiwan and South Korea included) components. With their lower wages, they should've easily been able to build much cheaper cell phones using Chinese components. But they are using Western components and even software in most of their products, especially the from medium range and up. They do this because they lack in many relevant technologies that are competitive and/or cheaper. Of course Chinese phones are somewhat cheaper for multiple reasons but they would be pretty much nonexistent if they could not use Western components as they could not compete. They can't use Western components in most military applications as pure commercial products are unsuitable or don't necessarily exist.
Offline

bumtish

Senior member

Senior member

  • Posts: 379
  • Joined: 14 Nov 2008, 15:59

Unread post09 Jun 2017, 12:44

weasel1962 wrote:
However, and what some posters choose not to acknowledge (selective?)

(i) the capability gap has narrowed dramatically
(ii) the capability gap will continue to narrow
(iii) and if R&D trends continue, there is no reason why the capability cannot be surpassed
(iv) the Chinese defense budget has continually increased at a far higher pace than the US
(v) the Chinese GDP surpasses the US in PPP terms
(vi) the Chinese GDP gap to the US in nominal terms has also narrowed
(vii) the Chinese are fielding capabilities that used to be the sole purview of western powers.
(viii) And yes, the Chinese have a much lower manufacturing cost than the US.
(ix) And what is as important but not highlighted, their cost is lower at the same stage of US GDP development than what US costs were when US had the same level of GDP as China today.


(i) & (ii) I don't think anyone denies this, ref RAND.
(iiI) I think it is a question of if and when. If so, it is a fair bit into the future.

Now for the main points:
(iv) Yes but labour costs in the military have increased at a faster pace, i.e. much of the increase in Chinese military spending reflects rise in wages and pensions.
(v) To get a high PPP there is also a high RER, which tells you that a lot of the production is not high tech and that the part of the economy which is high tech and could be traded internationally is a smaller fraction in PPP terms than in GDP terms.
(vi) Yes, but this is called convergence, GDP closes in on GDP as the economy develops.
(vii) yes, but overall not they are not as widespread and to some extent focused on narrow capabilities (but they are improving all the time, see (iii)).
(Viii) See convergence/development in labor costs and that defence is a high tech sector, i.e. labor costs are exposed to international rates (except for e.g. metal bashing building ships), thus the overall RER for labor does not apply.
(ix) what is this supposed to mean? As for what PPP vs GDP reflects about the structure, see above items.
Offline

zhangmdev

Active Member

Active Member

  • Posts: 154
  • Joined: 01 May 2017, 09:07

Unread post09 Jun 2017, 13:47

History is full of accidents and unexpected turns. Something went significant growth in the past doesn't necessary mean it will continue to do so in the future. Development of technology is not linear. Pumping more cash into a project doesn't guarantee you will get desired result quicker, or ever. There is no certainty some break through will emerge down the line if you wait long enough. If things are stagnated for a long time, secrets will be exposed, designs will be copied, being caught up is expected.

But don't buy into the myth of "those industrialists in China could reverse engineer anything and start mass production at much lower prices all in a single afternoon, if you provided the sample". How many J-10s has Chengdu managed to punch out in two decades? How many Su-27 derivatives has Shenyang produced? I don't call that numerical superiority. How about jet engine, strategic bomber, aerial refueling, AWACS, air-lifting? Flying a few prototypes means they have the technology. But still far from having the capability can be deployed in real life situation. A C919 just flew into the sky of Shanghai. Does that mean Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 is dead?
Offline
User avatar

sferrin

Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 5554
  • Joined: 22 Jul 2005, 03:23

Unread post09 Jun 2017, 13:53

zhangmdev wrote: A C919 just flew into the sky of Shanghai. Does that mean Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 is dead?


For every C919 there's a Y-20, J-20, J-31, Mk41 knock-off, RAM knock-off, Goalkeeper knockoff, Brahmos knockoff, etc. etc. etc.
"There I was. . ."
Offline

weasel1962

Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2191
  • Joined: 07 Jun 2012, 02:41
  • Location: Singapore

Unread post09 Jun 2017, 16:06

@ hornetfinn, there is a simple explanation for that chart. In 1990, china's defense spending was $17b, today its many times that. Its not going to stay $17b going forward...

Defence expenditure is actually a function of gdp. Higher GDP affords a higher military budget. PPP measures GDP based on cost equalisation taking into account cost differential.

The GDP gap was very wide in 1990 vs today between the US and China. A large çhunk of China's defence budget went to just suks in 1990. Today, china can afforda suk knockoff production line, J-10s, Aircraft carriers, a navy that is churning out warships like dumplings J-20s, y-20s etc, simultaneously. That's at 1/3rd the budget in nominal terms.

What else are the chinese doing to improve budget efficiency? Removing older aircraft means less maintenance cost spent on inefficient aircraft. Getting rid of conscripts 300,000 at a time reducing salary costs even if low.

If china matches the US Gdp in nominal terms in roughly a decade, guess what they'll be able to afford then...

Hope that's dynamic enough. Dynamic of course meaning time-wise.

As to numerical superiority, one word, "localised".

Have a nice weekend guys.
Offline

tincansailor

Banned

  • Posts: 711
  • Joined: 05 Jul 2015, 20:06

Unread post09 Jun 2017, 18:30

steve2267 wrote:
hornetfinn wrote:Those are qualities no German super tank ever had. Btw, I think Soviets and Brits did pretty equal amount of work against German super tanks as US forces.


As an aside, I believe it was the Brits that really bought into that high velocity 76mm gun on the Sherman which was renamed the Firefly. It was quiet effective at dispatching the Tigers and Panthers. So much so that the Germans always looked for and killed it first. The longer gun tube and more angular turret made it (somewhat) easier to identify.


Respectfully Steve the Firefly Sherman mounted a British 17 pounder. The turret was so crammed the gun had to be laid sideways, and was difficult to aim. The 76mm Sherman's were American, and had better anti-tank performance, but not as good supporting infantry with HE fire. They didn't make as much HE in 76mm as they did in 75. Also they were always short on HVAT ammo in 76mm.

Most tank kills on all sides in WWII were not from other tanks, but from Anti-tank guns, artillery, tank destroyers, assault guns, mines and other causes, including aircraft. The image that most of us have of big battles between tanks was rare in WWII. The Battle of Prokhorovka during the Kursk Campaign was a notable exception, where hundreds of tanks fought in a head on clash.

Most of those late war Tigers, and Panthers wound up fighting as pillboxes rather then being used in mass tank assaults. The Germans were almost completely on the defensive for the last 2 years, and when they did attack their offensives were usually broken up quickly. Even in the Battle of the Bulge the German offensive was largely spent after the first week.
Offline

tincansailor

Banned

  • Posts: 711
  • Joined: 05 Jul 2015, 20:06

Unread post10 Jun 2017, 00:22

weasel1962 wrote:@ hornetfinn, there is a simple explanation for that chart. In 1990, china's defense spending was $17b, today its many times that. Its not going to stay $17b going forward...

Defence expenditure is actually a function of gdp. Higher GDP affords a higher military budget. PPP measures GDP based on cost equalisation taking into account cost differential.

The GDP gap was very wide in 1990 vs today between the US and China. A large çhunk of China's defence budget went to just suks in 1990. Today, china can afforda suk knockoff production line, J-10s, Aircraft carriers, a navy that is churning out warships like dumplings J-20s, y-20s etc, simultaneously. That's at 1/3rd the budget in nominal terms.

What else are the chinese doing to improve budget efficiency? Removing older aircraft means less maintenance cost spent on inefficient aircraft. Getting rid of conscripts 300,000 at a time reducing salary costs even if low.

If china matches the US Gdp in nominal terms in roughly a decade, guess what they'll be able to afford then...

Hope that's dynamic enough. Dynamic of course meaning time-wise.

As to numerical superiority, one word, "localised".

Have a nice weekend guys.



Excellent points being made by all. The question of quantity vs. quality really can only be answered in an all out war, not a war of attrition like Vietnam were will was the deciding factor. As for China today another factor is per capita income. A richer society can devote more resources toward collective goals. A poor one needs to use most of it's resources for basic needs.

The Soviet Union needed 20% of it population for primary agriculture, basic farming, America needed less then 3%. China has less then 1/4 of America's per capita income. They still need most of their resources to meet basic needs. North Korea is the best example of this, a nation with nuclear weapons, and starving people. China's biggest problem in the future is running out of water. Northern China is turning into a desert. China will have to devote massive resources combating environmental issues.

China will undoubtedly be upgrading it's equipment, while reducing the size of it's forces. However they may not be able to truly build a military force to compete with the United States across the whole military spectrum. To be a global Super Power requires massive resources of technology, material, and human capital that China may not ultimately have.
Offline

arian

Banned

  • Posts: 1293
  • Joined: 23 Dec 2014, 09:25

Unread post11 Jun 2017, 00:01

Sorry weasel1962 but I think you're making a lot of straw-man arguments here.

1) First off, the whole premise of this "quality vs quantity" discussion is false. Where is the "quantity" here? As Hornetfinn correctly describes, as China's military modernizes, the numbers drop dramatically as well. This is what happens when things become more expensive and complex to develop/maintain/operate. So on face value, the discussion is moot since there is no superior Chinese quantity in the first place. Quite the opposite, US quantity is obscenely larger.

2) On capability gap. I don't buy it. Not for a minute. The capability gap between the US and Soviet Union was MUCH smaller in the 1980s, than it is today between US and China. And the USSR also had huge numerical superiority as well. Saying that Chinese now have smart weapons and targeting pods doesn't impress me one bit. It's 2017. If they didn't, I'd be worried. But that doesn't mean the capability gap is narrowing. Maybe the capability gap between China and the US and narrowing, but that's to be expected since its 2017. I wouldn't expect China to be relying on MiG-19s and MiG-21s still. But the capability gap between China and US is much much larger than it was between the USSR and US. And again, the USSR also had numbers to back that up, whereas China doesn't.

3) Again, comparing civilian manufacturing operations or location choices is totally different from military technology, military procurement or production. In the civilian world, moving a factory from one place to another implies a substitution effect. That doesn't exist in the military world. Don't get caught up on PPP which is relevant only in civilian issues: PPP as I said earlier is really only in terms of function, but it tells nothing in terms of quality.
Offline

arian

Banned

  • Posts: 1293
  • Joined: 23 Dec 2014, 09:25

Unread post11 Jun 2017, 00:04

weasel1962 wrote:Again in history, there was also an instance where a country decided economics wasn’t so important. That spending XX times the opponent so long as the opponent died justify the expenditure. That country was the Soviet Union. Guess what happened to them?


Given the repeated defeats of numerically superior Soviet-block weaponry in numerous battlefields, I'm not sure the Soviets ever managed to get to the point where they could get the opponent to "die". Not sure this example makes your case.
Previous

Return to F-35 versus XYZ

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests