Tom Shugart Profile picture
Defense analyst, former submariner, pilot. @cnasdc Adjunct Senior Fellow. Founder, Archer Strategic Consulting. Opinions my own. RT=/=endorsement.
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May 9 7 tweets 2 min read
A good step, but how about we build some aircraft shelters Out West that are built out of concrete, too?… Because here's the thing: assuming the PRC has regular EO/IR satellite passes over the bases we plan to use (and I assume that they do), then something like an inflatable rubber hangar that appears overnight will obviously be fake, as a real hardened shelter takes time to build.
May 4 15 tweets 5 min read
Stumbled onto an interesting (to me) development over at COSCO shipping, a PRC state-owned shipping company that works with the PLA, and routinely takes part in amphibious landing exercises. Turns out that due to rising demand for export of Chinese cars, COSCO has come up with a way to convert bulk carrier ships (plain old cargo ships with big, empty holds) into car carriers. Makes sense: they can transport cars out & bulk raw materials back.…
May 4 4 tweets 2 min read
Just a reminder, now that we have evidence of UUV-capable Russian ships operating near Nordstream 2 at just the right time to sabotage it… …that @RStatecraft—which claims to be a serious think tank—has been flogging Seymour Hersh’s absurd America-blaming conspiracy theory for months…
May 2 5 tweets 3 min read
Lots of agree with here, of course, but a couple of maritime nits to pick with some of the Chairman’s statements here:… First, he characterizes Ukraine as a “landlocked” country. While the war has mostly been a land war, Ukraine has a coastline over 2700km long, and the maritime picture has mattered a fair bit in its progress - remember the Moskva sinking, grain convoys, Snake Island, etc. Image
Apr 21 5 tweets 2 min read
We recently saw the release of the USN's FY2024 30-year shipbuilding plan. Based on that report, plus @CRS4Congress's most recent report on PLA Navy modernization, here is a chart of both navies' past and future (estimated) ship inventories over time. 😐 Image Source data for the USN came from here:…
Apr 19 25 tweets 9 min read
I hesitate to further the distribution of this @Newsweek piece, but I just...can't let it percolate out there without addressing some of its misleading statements and misunderstandings concerning the U.S. submarine force and submarine operations.… First, let's start with the basic premise: that we're going to spend a lot of money (more on that later) on subs that we "barely use". The first thing presented is: USN "can deploy barely a quarter" of the SSN force at any one time, & only 10% "operated stealthily". 🤔 Image
Apr 9 21 tweets 7 min read
A couple of times now, I've posted calculations of the total tonnage of warships launched by the PLA Navy over a 5-year period, providing a comparison with similar totals for the USN & allied/partner navies.
Let’s take a deeper look: over the last decade.
These estimates will generally cover ships launched from 2013-2022, and will include ships useful in high intensity combat/power projection: subs, carriers, amphibious assault ships, surface combatants, ocean going fleet auxiliaries (e.g., tankers), and mine warfare ships.
Apr 6 8 tweets 3 min read
Folks are about to find out all about China's 3rd navy - the "Maritime Safety Administration". For those who wondered why China built 10,000-ton, cruiser-size "maritime safety" ships, well, we're all about to find out.… 10,700 tonnes is a whole lotta maritime safety able to be imposed on China's neighbors. More details here:…
Apr 1 5 tweets 2 min read
Update: DoD, along with partner nations Japan, Taiwan, the ROK and the Philippines, have announced a new and massive base hardening and force dispersal program, which will include several key lines of effort. First, recognizing the lack of survivability of its own airfields, the ROCAF will—in the event of an imminent invasion—execute plans to immediately disperse to Philippine, Japanese, and ROK fields, to include civilian airports. Dispersal exercises start next week.
Mar 31 4 tweets 2 min read
BREAKING: sometimes submarines (like every other military platform ever constructed) have to to be down for maintenance.
This story—and its headline in particular—is ludicrous.… And no, Paul Keating wasn't right. Example: his claim "Australia should have opted instead to purchase 40 to 50 conventional submarines." Last figures I could find, the class of diesel boats was going to cost A$225bn for 12 hulls.…
Mar 31 9 tweets 4 min read
More fantastic work here by @ChinaMaritime's Conor Kennedy (via @CIMSEC) documenting how China's dual-purpose civil-military-fused RoRo ferries add significantly to the PLA's capability to invade Taiwan.… Some great details sourced from PRC media on the specific modifications made to COSCO ferries to facilitate their use as amphibious assault vessels.
Mar 23 22 tweets 9 min read
Let’s talk about airbase hardening and dispersal, shall we?
Some of you may have seen a recent story about the USAF pulling some of its F-15 fighters out of Kadena AFB in Okinawa, to be replaced by rotational fighter deployments.… There was a fair bit of commentary on this news, informed or otherwise.
My @CNASdc colleagues @StaciePettyjohn @becca_wasser & Andrew Metrick wrote a thoughtful article on the prudency of this decision, and recommended additional measures like……
Mar 21 12 tweets 4 min read
3-ish years ago, I put up this thread on the growth of the Chinese PLA Navy, calculating the total tonnage of warships launched during a 5-year period & comparing it to the numbers for the USN & allied/partner navies.
Looks to me like it's about time for an update. The previous thread covered the warships China launched from 2015-2019. This update will cover 2018-2022. The PLA Navy took a bit of a breather in its destroyer and frigate construction for a couple of years, so the numbers could be interesting. Did they still outbuild the USN?
Mar 3 31 tweets 12 min read
Andrew Bacevich, co-founder of @QuincyInst, recently published this article in @ForeignAffairs that, unsurprisingly, argues for significantly reduced US military power, and a paring back of American leadership in the world.
A few thoughts on this piece...… First, Bacevich is obviously entitled to his opinion; but he does a fair bit of cherry-picking and twisting of facts and sources in making his argument. More on this in a bit.
Feb 14 26 tweets 12 min read
A few days ago, I provided some thoughts on @CSIS’s wargaming of a PRC invasion of Taiwan. My assessment covered the game’s setup, assumptions, and key takeaways, and at the end I said that I would follow-up with some more on the game’s recommendations. As promised, here we go… First, as I’m sure folks can imagine would be dear to my heart, the team recommends MOAR SUBMARINES. 😁
As has been discussed in many times and many places, the USN has a distinct advantage in undersea warfare, and the US should continue to press that advantage.
Feb 8 28 tweets 11 min read
Now that Balloongate has died down, a few thoughts on @CSIS’s recent Taiwan wargaming report. There was a fair bit of discussion of this a few weeks ago, but it’s taken me some time to review the report and gather my thoughts, so here they are:… There were a fair number of headlines about this report/study, some of them with fairly sanguine takeaways:…
Feb 7 4 tweets 2 min read
Mr. Kagan, presumably after negative feedback, has now made a correction. IMO the correction makes even less sense, and twists the facts into a pretzel (putting the USSR on the Axis side of the ledger!) in order seemingly to avoid just admitting he was wrong. Here's the "corrected" paragraph which, while less "wrong" from a numbers perspective, just doesn't make any sense. He refers to the Axis "at their peak in 1941". Well, I'd say that peak was in December, when Hitler's Panzers were at Moscow's door...
Feb 4 6 tweets 3 min read
Wow, looks like the FAA has put out a Temporary Restricted Area off the NC/SC coast, surface to 60K feet and prohibiting all civil aircraft operations. This is pretty unusual, maybe setting up for a balloon shoot down? You can see pretty clearly the hole in the airspace.
Feb 4 17 tweets 8 min read
Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but some of the facts that Robert Kagan uses to underpin his opinions here are just...wrong.… First, teeing up historical examples of unified, modernizing Germany and Japan, he says that they both believed "time and momentum" were on their side.
Assuming he's talking about Wilhelmine Germany and Imperial Japan this strikes me immediately as wrong.
Feb 3 5 tweets 3 min read
The difference between the Chinese- & English-language faces of PRC state-owned enterprises never ceases to interest & amuse me.
Here's the news section of the site for COMAC's new C919 airliner.
Left: English version
Right: Chinese version (machine translated) Left, English version company news:
- C919 gets production license
- companies sign orders for airplanes

Chinese-language version:
- also, study the spirit of the 20th Party Congress!
- recent Party building meeting!
- recent Party Standing Committee meeting!
Jan 24 9 tweets 4 min read
Some exciting imagery (at least, for PLA-watching nerds) out of the South China Sea.
Just saw this image today of Woody Island, in the Paracel Islands of the SCS (h/t @nuwangzi) from last April. The image shows what appear to be four retractable-roof buildings, similar to those that have been built on China's "Big Three" Spratly group artificial islands, and which have been thought to be for housing Chinese HQ-9 anti-aircraft missiles (SAMs)…