US plans big expansion of navy fleet to challenge growing Chinese sea power

US plans big expansion of navy fleet to challenge growing Chinese sea power

  • Defence secretary promises future fleet including unmanned ships that will focus on Indo-Pacific region

The US secretary of defence, Mark Esper, has announced an ambitious plan to expand the US Navy with a range of unmanned and autonomous ships, submarines and aircraft to confront the growing maritime challenge from China.

The Pentagon chief said a sweeping review of US naval power dubbed “Future Forward” had laid out a “game-changer” plan that would expand the US sea fleet to more than 355 ships, from the current 293.

The plan, which requires adding tens of billions of dollars to the US Navy’s budget between now and 2045, is aimed at maintaining superiority over Chinese naval forces, seen as the primary threat to the United States.

“The future fleet will be more balanced in its ability to deliver lethal effects from the air, from the sea, and from under the sea,” Esper said in a speech at the Rand Corporation in California on Wednesday.