Friday, August 23, 2019

Base Hardening

We’ve discussed the vulnerabilities of our forward bases (see, "Base Defense") and, among other actions, noted that we should be pursuing hardening of our bases.

National Interest website makes the point that hardening includes far more than merely protecting the aircraft on the ground.

“However, protecting the aircraft is just a first step. Combat aircraft sortie generation can be thought of as an industrial process with the airfield as a “sortie factory.” The factory needs working aircraft, but the aircraft must be able to taxi to a runway that is long enough for them to operate from safely and when they return they must be able to be repaired, refueled and rearmed, and their crews must be able to receive orders and plan missions. This means other parts of the factory must be protected if the base is to function under attack. This means hardening maintenance, fuel storage and distribution and operations facilities.” (1)

This is an interesting, and correct, take on the issue that recognizes what an airbase actually is and, therefore, the scope of what must be protected.  This leads to the concept of a “sortie chain”, similar to a kill chain, in which a series of steps are required to generate a sortie.  Breaking the chain at any point will terminate the sortie.  For example, there is no need to destroy the aircraft if you can destroy the fueling facilities or the maintenance facilities or any other step in the chain - hence, the need to harden the entire chain and its associated facilities.

Dr. Carlo Kopp notes that China is actively pursuing airbase hardening and presents data on the extent of that effort.

“The only nation in the region actively investing in airbase hardening over the past decade is China, which has incrementally expanded its inventory of underground hangars (UGH), while investing in HAS [Hardened Aircraft Shelter] at multiple airfields.

China’s tally as of 12 months ago ( was 7 x UGH sized for Badger bombers, capable of accommodating 138 – 145 aircraft (or many more fighters), 14 x UGH sized for Beagle bombers, capable of accommodating up to 668 Flankers, 17 x UGH sized for MiGs, capable of accommodating up to 723 J-10 fighters, for a total of 38 sites, with several further sites unused or abandoned. In addition, all other PLA fighter airfields are equipped with revetted dispersals, and a good number have been upgraded with HAS.” (2)

Dr. Kopp also makes the point that China’s huge advantage in hardened sites creates a strategic imbalance in their favor.  The side that is better prepared to absorb attacks and continue to fight has a significant advantage – no great surprise but a concept seemingly lost on Western military professionals.

Air Force Magazine website notes some of China’s HAS efforts.

“Distributed over 15 air bases throughout Nanjing and Guangzhou military regions in the east and southeast of China, the number of hardened shelters has grown from 92 to 312 in the past 12 years …” (3)

Hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) are not a magic solution to attack and do not grant immunity to damage.  Precision guided, penetrating bombs will destroy HAS structures as the US demonstrated during Desert Storm and, just recently, in the Tomahawk attack on the Syrian airbase associated with chemical weapons.  What HAS (and any form of hardening) does is to eliminate the cheap kills and drive up the cost of achieving the desired degree of destruction.  “Dumb” bombs are plentiful - precision guided, deep penetrating bombs are not.  

Kopp illustrates the point using the Desert Storm war.

“When Coalition air forces flew into Iraq in early 1991, they confronted the most extensively hardened airbase system ever built. Saddam’s hardened airbases proved ineffective, and Coalition tactical fighters destroyed 375 of 594 during the six week air campaign. With complete control of the air won within the first day, Coalition fighters were able to repeatedly attack HAS installations until they were cracked open. The pivotal weapon used was the American 2,000 lb BLU-109/B I-2000 Have Void concrete piercing bomb, fitted with either the GBU-10, GBU-24 or GBU-27 laser guidance kit. Typically two weapons were used per target, the intent being for the second round to punch into the hole made by the first round. While many HAS were punctured in an initial attack, many others required repeat attacks until fatal damage was inflicted. This absorbed a significant proportion of available Coalition sorties, as the limited number of F-111, Tornado, and Buccaneer aircraft equipped to laser illuminate targets set hard limits on daily sortie rates.” (2)

Hardening did not defeat the overall attack but it greatly increased the time and effort required for the Coalition to achieve its goal.  The key lesson is that many hardened targets required multiple re-attacks.  In Desert Storm, with total control of the air, we were able to re-attack as often as needed.  Against a peer adversary and lacking control of the sky, the ability to knock out hardened bases becomes a much more difficult and questionable task and re-attacks will likely be prohibitively expensive, in terms of attacking aircraft attrition or simply not possible given sortie availability and defense changes.

A related point is that the type of laser guided, precision, penetrating bombs used by the US require that the launching aircraft (and lasing aircraft, if they are not the same) overfly or very closely approach the target.  Again, against a peer with a credible SAM system, this may be costly or impossible.

Kopp also discusses underground hangars.

“The alternative to HAS, underground hangars, if built with proper entrance designs, deflection grids and blockers, can resist repeat attacks with tactical fighter compatible concrete piercing bombs. Such targets require genuine ‘earthquake bombs’, such as the new 30,000 lb GBU-57/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP)…” (2)

Air Force Magazine notes possible vulnerabilities of underground hangars.

“… the perceived vulnerability of UGHs to precision weapons. Most of the shelters have only a few entrances, which if struck could pin aircraft inside for an extended period. …

Precision strikes against the taxiways leading to the entrances could also hinder operations. Although aircraft inside may survive, it could prove difficult to extract them from their underground lair and launch. In addition, it might be possible for the first precision guided munition to penetrate the doors with a follow-on weapon to detonate inside the UGH.”

Just as there is a crowd of people who believe that since armor can’t stop every weapon that exists, there is no point having any armor, so too there is a crowd, likely the same crowd, who believes that since no amount of hardening can stop every bomb or missile, there is no point hardening bases.  Clearly, this is misguided, idiotic thinking.  Hardening (or armor, as the case may be) drastically drives up the cost and effort for the attacker.  In a peer war, where you may only get one chance at an attack, hardening ensures that at least some of your assets survive and forces the attacker to expend many more assets than would otherwise be required.  China recognizes this and is preparing their bases accordingly.

On the U.S. side,

“Currently, the US military has 207 HAS dispersed among four bases in the Western Pacific, with a significant majority in South Korea.” (3)

On the other hand, some key U.S. bases have little in the way of hardening.

“Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, located just 460 miles from the Taiwan Strait, houses F-15s and occasionally F-22s—and large numbers of other USAF aircraft—but possesses only 15 shelters.

Andersen Air Force Base on Guam hosts a range of strategic assets, such as B-2 stealth bombers and RQ-4 surveillance aircraft, but has no hardened shelters.” [emphasis added] (3)

The US needs to devote serious efforts towards hardening its few forward bases.  This is a key point since the US has so few forward bases in the Pacific – Guam being the notable example.  We need to do all we can to ensure that Guam can withstand attack and continue to function.  

Can we afford more hardening efforts?  From Air Force Magazine,

“… it should be noted that roughly 20 new hardened shelters can be purchased for the cost of a single fourth generation fighter.” (3)

On the opposite side of the coin, we need to devote more effort to figuring out how to more efficiently and safely destroy hardened facilities.


(1)National Interest website, “Base Hardening: Can America and Its Allies "Play Fort" against China?”, Harry J. Kazianis, October 27, 2014,

(2)“Airbase Hardening in the Western Pacific”, Dr. Carlo Kopp

(3)Air Force Magazine website, “The Dragon Pours Concrete”, David Lewton, Dec 2014,


  1. Another parallel to hardened aircraft shelters were the German U-boat pens of WW2. They were virtually invulnerable to conventional bombing, and required repeated direct hits from Tallboy and 10,000 kg Grand Slam bombs to knock out. Concrete is very very cheap, and is a fantastic force multiplier.

    1. Excellent historical example! Thanks.

      I note that the Chinese sub base at Hainan is supposedly an underground facility connected by flooded tunnels to the sea.

  2. Went years ago to Chinese Air Force museum outside Beijing. Its inside a mountain. I dont think regular people understand how big these things are and I doubt we saw all of it. Blocking the few entrances-exits is a possibility but how hard would it be to bulldoze the rumble out of the way? I dont think it's all that hard....compared to building new jet fighters, its apiece of cake! Apart from nuke, I doubt a few PGMs would do more than stop-slow operations for more than 24 hours.

  3. A little off topic, Hurricane Michael caused the loss of several F-22's here on the Gulf Coast. Properly hardened shelters would have saved them. It's not just bombs you have to worry about. If you don't have the right infrastructure, you'll have a disadvantage even without bombs and missiles falling. Many of those hardening techniques have other useful features.

  4. A mountain would be the best,hardened shelters are ok...let's not forget in a new SEA war or a hurricane!, you think the bad guys aren't going to go after our tankers or cargo planes? Protecting F22 is good beginning but if they take out all the other support planes, they have done almost just as much damage.

  5. This topic reminds me of a Maureen Dowd column in The New York Times shortly after 9/11.

    She stated that if we started giving extra scrutiny at airport security to young middle-eastern men, then Al Quaeda would just recruit blond haired, blue eyed people to carry out attacks.

    OK, Maureen. Make them do it.

    If we armor our ships, then they'll just develop new warheads for their missiles.
    OK, make them do it.

    If we harden our bases, the enemy might use a precision guided weapon to hit the doors to a protected aircraft structure.
    OK, make them do it.

    Or the might nuke the base.
    OK, make them take that step (which they hopefully won't).

    Right now, if I'm attacking the US in the Pacific, I'm just going to launch cruise missiles at Guam with scattering cluster munitions. The bomblets will destroy aircraft, hangers, fuel tanks, barracks...everything.

    All of these Pacific bases should be protected as if they were a ship. Hardened structures, missiles intercepting incoming missiles, why not CIWS?

    Bunkers for ammunition, fuel, planes, civilians. And also for bulldozers and metal sheeting to repair craters in runways.

    The military needs to start thinking of this as if they were, you know, preparing for a war with someone (like the Chinese?).

    1. "Make them do it."

      I applaud your philosophy! We need to make things as difficult as possible for our enemies. Make them react to us. Make them spend money to respond to us. Put them behind the developmental curve.

      Well said!

    2. Especially when spending a little money will make them spend more.

  6. "Against a peer adversary and lacking control of the sky,..."

    There's your answer. We cannot attack that (economically). o answer the original issue, deny control of the sky to your adversary and you don't NEED to harden your facilities. Hardening aviation infrastructure assumes absorbing an attack. That is unthinkable. You turn Land-Air into USS Nimitz except as Land-Air, you can't even run out of range to lick your wounds and UNREP. You cannot operate modern aviation ashore while under attack, you can only at best, hunker down while they destroy your fields, assuming, "Against a peer adversary and lacking control of the sky".

    Sticky wicket, Skipper! Thought-provoking topic. I been on the ground and at sea. Even not under attack, it's a dangerous business. Throw in the missiles, it's damned near impossible. Missiles. God's way of telling us to call conventional aviation obsolete. We have GOT to get good at missiles and quickly if we're to continue to trifle with the best of even the Third World.


    1. I would think that it doesn't need to be an alpha strike that overwhelms our layered defenses.

      Couldn't it just be a submarine that gets close enough to Guam to launch cruise missiles with sub-munition bomblets that hit the B-52's on the parking pads at Andersen Air Base?

    2. That's a goof fargin' take, TAG. I'm assuming the Skipper doesn't want us to pepper these here pages with the profanities of God-Fearin' Sailors, hence, "fargin'. Look, it all depends on the cruise missiles. Alpha strikes are a purely modern (starting in Vietnam) United States contrivance. Iron Hand alpha strikes started with an ECM lead-in, followed by waves of light and medium-attack assets to soften up SAM radar nets and the guns and missiles tied to said nets. It is only after suppression of those defenses that you can bring in BUFFS for heavy offensive attack. That's under the conventional aviation, pre-cruise missile age. No one was ever able to do that to the United States because no one, even the USSR at the heights of Soviet power, was able to do it to us like we could do it to anyone, and did. It all goes back to that simple statement Skip made above, "Against a peer adversary and lacking control of the sky". You either have control of the sky or you don't. If you don't, harden your base. Just understand that even if you do harden, without control of the sky you can't operate the assets you're protecting because you can't pull them out of their holes.

    3. BTW, I completely delete the Stealth concepts here. I consider 'stealth' to be a complete sham and a come-on. There is no stealth. We're a long way from 1991-2003 Saddam. Consider the B-2 to be no more effective than the B-52 was when the B2 came out by comparison. If the B2 was so damned stealthy, we would fly over Iran with impunity. We do not. And so the notions of stealth are dead to me. We're right back to 1977.

    4. Nimitz, stealth on missiles is worthwhile,
      reducing the defences' reaction time.
      Also stealth missiles in canisters don't have the
      signature maintenance issues on manned a/c.

  7. Hardening when referring to the Chinese bases, is a defensive concept. Just as Sweden and Switzerland did ( and still do) during the Cold war with hangars inside mountains as neutrals that was the beginning and end of their strategy. Highly recommended if the major military objective is defending the homeland. Taken to its extreme it becomes Maginot line thinking and offensive action and doctrine withers away . The French had more tanks than the Germans at the start of WW2 but I dont think had a strategy to use them offensively to grab all the land up to the Rhine if/when war eventuated

    With hardening of naval bases, unless you have rock tunnels for submarines for hiding to complement them being underwater at sea, its largely impractical. So the defensive approach is to keep your ships in port.
    The German High Seas fleet after Jutland largely did that for its capital ships. The Royal Navy decided as an offensive strategy was to go after those ships and sink them in port. So they developed naval aviation from existing catapult launch off gun turrets and crane hoisted sea planes to the beginnings of flat deck carriers and a plane that could carry a air launched torpedo. I understand they were some thing like a month or so away from launching a carrier strike when the armistice ended the fighting.
    Hardening is a useful method of providing resilience but the downside is that taken to the extreme its only use is defensive. And its foolish to think the enemy wont come after you anyway.

    1. "With hardening of naval bases, unless you have rock tunnels for submarines for hiding to complement them being underwater at sea, its largely impractical."

      No … I think you're missing a lot of possibilities and scope. Hardening is not just protecting the aircraft or ship. It's as important, or more important, to protect (harden) the logistics: fuel storage, munitions storage, repair equipment, etc. Harden the supporting elements and you can keep the base functioning. Lose the supporting elements and it doesn't matter whether the ships/aircraft are safe, they'll be rendered inoperable.

      'Hardening' refers not just to physical hardening like concrete hangars but to improved defenses like more and better layered AAW systems, more C-RAM/CWIS, more redundancy, more repair capability (you will take damage!), simpler technology (easier to repair/replace mechanical rotating radars than Aegis arrays), etc.

      "Hardening ... only use is defensive."

      Of course that's what it is! However, that defense allows you to operate a forward, OFFENSIVE base. This is the Guadalcanal example.

    2. We have good armor on our M-1 tanks. It's not there to make the crew invulnerable. It's there to defend them long enough so they can offend the enemy with more than strong words. All hardening and defense in the military is (supposed) to work that way.

    3. the M1 Abrams comparison is a good point, it moves the 'hardening' forward to the front line. For ships, the equivalent example is the amouring of ships vitals as promoted by CNO

    4. A good historical example is the Fuel supplies at Pearl Harbor. Almost every study of the attack states that if the Japanese had hit them it would have crippled our ability to respond with the ships (Subs & Carriers) we had left in the Pacific. If they had been hardened, even in the event of a strike they destruction would probably have been limited.

      Randall Rapp

    5. "Fuel supplies at Pearl Harbor."

      Very good example!

    6. Red Hill Fuel Depot was being built before the war, and became operational by 42-43. It is still there , Had more storage than the above ground tanks. The myths of the oil tanks being attacked was started by a Japanese pilot post-war . It was later given a slight amount of weight because of something Adm. Nimitz said however realize Nimitz told a fib because at the time Red Hill Depot was still a secret and manage to stay out of public knowledge till the 1980's.

  8. "Hardening is a useful method of providing resilience but the downside is that taken to the extreme its only use is defensive. And its foolish to think the enemy wont come after you anyway."

    And we keep coming back to, "Against a peer adversary and lacking control of the sky". Even if you harden, you're dead if they can attack.

    1. "Even if you harden, you're dead if they can attack."

      But how many times can the US attack?
      A Strike package against China will be a full if not multi carrier affair.
      Each attack will lead to lost aircraft to shoot downs, battle damage, and wear and tear, and on top of that, its not Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq, China intends to kill carriers that come too close.

      If you need 1000x 2000lb guided bombs to knock out an airbase, and you carry 2 per striker, you need 500 strikers.
      A strike package of 5 strikers and 20 support means 100 strike packages, and 2500 sorties.
      China can build thousands of airbases.

    2. "you need 500 strikers."

      Why would you even consider aircraft as the strike vehicle? This is what cruise missiles are for. As I've been preaching, the job of the modern carrier is to protect and escort the Tomahawk shooters (Burkes) which are the real strike force.

      On a related note, our four SSGNs carry a total of 600+ Tomahawk cruiser missiles. Quite a strike pulse! One can't help but question the wisdom of our plan to retire them without direct replacement.

    3. "Even if you harden, you're dead if they can attack. "

      I'm not quite sure what you're getting at here. This is the Guadalcanal scenario. You harden a base so as to keep fighting from it.

      Hardening, of course, means more than just concrete hangars. It means improving all defensive measures: multi-layered AAW, more C-RAM/CWIS, subs protecting the outer layers, more SAMS, more redundancy, hardened fuel and munition storage, better and more robust repair equipment, simpler equipment that is easier to repair/replace, much more ECM, etc. 'Hardening' is a generic term (at least, as I use it) for all defensive measures that make it 'harder' to destroy a base.

      I see no reason why a single attack by the enemy is an automatic total destruction sentence. I think I'm missing your point.

    4. "Even if you harden, you're dead if they can attack."

      A6NimitzGuy: Not necessarily true. It depends on the kind of weapons you anticipate your adversary using. A good example of this, which I've talked about before in the comments elsewhere on this blog, is Singapore: the entire island is within artillery range of its neighbours, let alone airstrikes, and RSAF expects its bases to be taking artillery fire in case of war: therefore the Singaporeans harden their bases to ride out the attach with HAS, distributed and camoflaged fuel storage, runway-length taxiways, armored runway repair and mineclearing vehicles, air defenses, and even mobile ATC towers.

      What ComNavOps is getting at is something I've talked about before, in that a sufficiently hardened airbase can act as a tarpit, eating up the adversary's stocks of PGM - and, in the case of Guam, eating up the conventional IRBMs in the PLA's arsenal.

    5. "I see no reason why a single attack by the enemy is an automatic total destruction sentence. I think I'm missing your point."

      @ComNavOps: It basically depends on what you assume the enemy is going to attack you with. If we look at all the hardening measures used to protect against airbases, they're oriented to hardening against conventional attack - tube and rocket artillery, airstrikes, cruise missile strikes, that sort of thing.

      The big question is whether the Chinese are going to decide that it'd be easier to suppress Guam with a few nukes instead of a lot of conventional IRBMs. Conventional wisdom says no, because the use of nuclear weapons escalates the conflict to an existential level. On the other hand, we have the counter exibit of France, which is so withered geopolitically that the French hint at nukes whenever France even vaguely appears to be threatened, a relic of their Cold War nuclear posture...

      China's official nuclear posture is "No First Use", but well, it depends how much trust you have in China's word. (Meanwhile the US *behaves* as if its posture is "No First Use" but it's official nuclear posture allows for nuclear first strikes.)

      It basically depends on how much of a threat they think Guam and other regional US bases are.

  9. I would add decoys, fake HAS can be difficult to fake in a practical way, but the warplane decoy can be moved around, just like the russian inflatable tanks and S400.

  10. You need bases outside land based IRBM range. Guam is just too close to the mainland.
    If a full blown conventional war broke out between China and the US (a prospect much less likely then a series of asymmetric moves in which China challenges US hegemony without ever directly confronting her), Guam is going to be under constant bombardment from day 1 of the conflict.
    It's just inside the range of most of China's arsenal of land based IRBMs.
    There's no way the US would able to effectively suppress the entirety of the portion of China's eastern seaboard from which she would launch D-26 salvoes.
    Having said that, by all means harden the base. If you are going to have a base on Guam, it better be one of the most heavily defended bases on Earth or it's not going be sustainable at all.

    Realistically, it would likely be the case that Pearl Harbor and Australia will be the staging points in the beginning of a conflict with China. Australia in particular is only half the distance from China that Hawaii is and also out of range of any current Chinese IRBMs.

    I'd want to build well protected bases in Northern Australia if I was a US admiral tasked with winning back control of the Eastern Pacific from China.

    1. "Guam is going to be under constant bombardment from day 1 of the conflict."

      That kind of goes hand-in-hand with being a forward base. This is the Guadalcanal scenario. In addition to defending itself everyday, Guam would be conducting offensive operations everyday!

      The question is can we harden and defend the base well enough to be able to conduct significant offensive operations while simultaneously defending ourselves?

      Another aspect of a Guadalcanal-like forward base is that it can serve as 'black hole' for enemy forces. This is exactly what happened at Guadalcanal. The Japanese kept pouring ground/air/naval forces into the black hole of Guadalcanal and got nothing out of it. They ultimately gave up after losing a great deal of combat capability. If we can defend Guam adequately, the Chinese could well spend a great deal of combat capability for no gain.

      This does not obviate the need for staging bases outside the combat zone but a staging base and a forward base are two different animals.

    2. There's the possibility that Singapore might well work out to be a better forward base than Guam. Both are equally in range of DF-26, but unlike Guam, Singapore is a shining jewel of the Chinese diaspora, which China talks up as an example of how the Chinese people can accomplish great things. Attacking Singapore, an enclave of Chinese people (let's ignore how Singapore is multiracially mixed), goes against the PRC's narrative of being the great shepherd/guider of all Chinese. And if push comes to shove, Singapore would rather be in the American orbit than the Mainland China orbit.

    3. @ComNavOps - It's possible that Guam could act as a lightening rod to draw China into a war of attrition, as the US Navy did at Guadalcanal to the Japanese.
      However there are some significant differences between the two scenarios.

      Guadalcanal was good for that specifically because it was at the very limit of Japan's logistical train. It was far enough away from Rabaul (1,800kms or about 8 hours round trip for Kate bombers) that Japan could never hope to establish permanent air superiority over the island.
      This allowed the US to contest the space. It was at the very limit of Japanese air and naval power projection.
      It was also much closer to the Allied centres of logistics throughout the South Pacific (Samoa, Noumea, Australia etc) and therefore could be constantly reinforced. It was outside air cover range of course, hence the absolute importance of Henderson Field, but close enough to the staging areas for the military build up of allied forces that a steady stream of reinforcements could be fed in without encountering any real opposition from Japanese forces until very close to the Solomons.

      Guam is in a more difficult position in that China doesn't need to establish air superiority.
      She will simply bombard the island with waves of IRBMs. No need to contest the airspace or send in ground forces or large naval assets to fight a war of attrition.
      Missiles are not cheap, but they are cheaper than fleets and airwings.

      The D-26 is not currently being produced in massive numbers - but it soon will be. It's not going to cost the Chinese as much in terms of resources to bombard Guam repeatedly, as it will for the US to defend the place or stage units from it.

      Having said that, the D-26 doesn't exist in unlimited numbers. It's also unknown what the weapons true capabilities are.
      How effective is it against hardened targets? No on knows, at least publicly.

      So it's conceivable that a sufficiently hardened Anderson airfield could sustain repeated bombardments if the D-26 is incapable of deep penetration of hardened facilities.

      So I guess I'm saying, yes harden Guam. But if you're in charge of the initial stages of a conflict with China in the Pacific, you cannot rely on Guam staying open for business. I would not forward stage too many assets there. I would have to assume that Anderson is going to cop a pasting throughout the early stages of a conflict and could potentially be out of business.

      Really you want to have as many disparate staging bases as possible. You can't rely on any one base that's within IRBM range to survive the opening salvoes of the conflict. Better to stage from somewhere just outside range. Pearl Harbor is obviously one of those staging points, but it's a long way from China.

      Australia is the most obvious place in my mind. Darwin is only just outside range of course, and may soon be within range if China continues to increase the range of the D-26. There's three major military bases in Northern Australia.
      Darwin (HMAS Coonawarra)
      Derby (RAAF Curtin)
      Katherine (RAAF Tindal)

      They're all just outside range at the moment. That could easily change of course.

      An alternative is to do something seemingly counter intuitive and actually base closer to China, inside the boost phase range.
      The obvious problem there is that it brings you in range of a host of other weapons delivery systems and sensors that China can deploy.

    4. @Wild Goose I would seriously question the presumption that China would have any hesitation bombarding Singapore in a full scale wartime scenario.
      The CPP has a mostly negative relationship to the wider Chinese diaspora. That goes a long way back. The Chinese diaspora (which has existed for many centuries) has never been regarded as part of the Chinese nation by any Chinese ruler for the last thousand years.
      They have always been regarded as foreign, and in some ways traitors to the homeland. In medieval times they were forced into tribute paying status, in the same way as any other lesser foreign power.
      In modern times communist propaganda has mostly vilified them, rather than pointed to them as some kind of success story to emulate.

      Singapore has always been aligned more to the West in the form of the UK and US and Taiwan.
      China has a fairly acrimonious relationship with them.

      Which isn't to say that Singapore wouldn't play a significant role in a conflict - it controls the Straits of Malacca. That's where most of China's raw materials transits through. It would definitely be a spot the US and her allies would want to control and stage from.
      But it's also been fairly historically vulnerable.


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