Assessing technology innovation in the PLA
Pembleton, Gary L.
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In the last 10 years, China’s defense capability has increasingly become the focus of military analysts as well as a driving factor in U.S. policy. This thesis asks the question How much of Chinese military modernization counts as innovation? In answering this question it defines innovation, creates a standard for identifying innovation, and applies this standard to the plan and plaAF. Historically, technological innovation is either overlooked or ignored by intelligence services and recent developments by China have come as a surprise to many. This thesis identifies a total of 79 instances of innovative technology fielded by the plan and the plaAF since 1970. Many of these innovations, like the DF-21D, PL-12, and recent JY series of radars, comprise weapon systems not yet developed by other nations and thus count as global-level innovations. China is focused on developing innovative technologies to exploit weaknesses inherent in other technologically superior forces such as those fielded by the United States in order to gain an asymmetric advantage in what Chinese strategists label a counter-RMA.
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