CHINA would sink least US two aircraft carriers and destroy hundreds of aircraft in a war over Taiwan, a new wargame has predicted.
The short but brutally intense conflict would see around a fifth of US carriers and combat planes destroyed, as well as least 20 other warships, according to the chilling scenario.
China regards the self-governing island as part of its territory and has vowed to reunite it with the mainland by force if necessary.
The CSIS wargame envisages a number scenarios for a Chinese attempt to take the island in 2026 and the damage inflicted on US forces coming to its aid.
In their basic scenario, the US Navy’s losses “included two US aircraft carriers as well as between 7 and 20 other major surface warships”.
The losses of combat aircraft range from a low of 90 to a high of 774.
Currently the US has 11 aircraft carriers and is estimated to have around 3800 combat aircraft.
The attacks would include strikes by China’s DF-17 hypersonic missile dubbed the “carrier killer” for the it’s ability to be guided onto powerful US ships at terrifying speed.
The losses translates into at least 3200 US dead at a rate 140 a day, which dwarfs those suffered during America’s recent conflicts and approaches the 300 killed per day in World War II.
By comparison, the US sustained about three killed per day and at the height of the Vietnam War in 1968, when it lost 30 killed per day.
Why is Taiwan a flashpoint between the US and China?
The dispute over Taiwan stems back to the Chinese civil war, which ended in 1949 with the victory of the Communist Party Mao Zedong.
Taiwan – with a population of just 22 million – was recognised by the as the government of China until 1971 when the mainland took its seat at the United Nations.
China’s deposed leader Chiang Kaishek, who was backed by US, fled with his defeat forces the island of Taiwan, about 100 miles off the coast of the mainland.
Taiwan has since developed an identity of its own and become a thriving democratic country with close ties to the West, in particular the US.
The party led by its current president Tsai Ingwen has independence as its ultimate goal.
But China continues to regard the island has being part of its territory and vowed to reunify it by force if necessary.
Even holding a vote on independence is widely seen as the trigger for war.
To that end China has been pouring billions into modernising its military, including now building a fleet of aircraft carriers to match the US Navy.
That has put the country on a collision course with the United States, its main arms supplier.
President Joe Biden has recently said America will defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
In recent years tensions have been rising as US air and naval forces patrol the sea around Taiwan, to China’s intense annoyance.
Chinese warplanes regularly buzz the island while it has stepped up rehearsals for invasion.
The wargame sees the Chinese hitting US bases at Kadena in Japan and on the island of Guam with a barrage of missiles and strikes by planes.
It paints a grim picture off what reinforcements arriving at Kadena would encounter.
There would be “entire squadrons of wrecked U.S. and Japanese aircraft bulldozed to the side of the runway”.
In addition to the material damage there is the shocking sight of “hundreds of wounded in the base hospital, and temporary cemeteries to handle the many dead”.
“Missile attacks and air combat will have wiped out squadrons that arrived only a few days earlier. “Newly arriving personnel will be required to immediately conduct operations against the powerful Chinese forces that have caused so many casualties.”
According to the CSIS, a think-tank based in Washington DC, the devastation would come as a blow to the US.
“In addition to shocking the US public, the scale of casualties and equipment loss would stagger a U.S. military that has dominated battlefields for a generation,” says the CSIS.
“These losses would be particularly difficult for the Air Force and Navy, which have essentially operated in sanctuary since the end of World War II.
“Such losses would damage the U.S. global position for many years.”
Ultimately, China can only take Taiwan if the US doesn’t come to its aid “suffers heavily” if it fights America, the wargame predicts.
“Its navy is in shambles, the core of its amphibious forces is broken, and tens of thousands of soldiers are prisoners of war.”
While the US would win and Taiwan survive as a self-governing island, the losses on all sides would be staggering.
“The United States might win a pyrrhic victory, suffering more in the long run than the ‘defeated’ Chinese. Victory is not everything.”