The First Indigenous Chinese Aircraft Carrier Yet To Prove Its Blue Water Capability By Venturing Into High Seas
Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Special Forces
Today, China has two aircraft carriers: the ex-Soviet carrier Liaoning, and a second still not named Type 002, currently undergoing sea trials.
Liaoning a rust bucket Carrier at its best, is just expected to function strictly as a training platform as it has no capability whatsoever for venturing out into the high seas.
Naval Aviation is one of the most complicated branch of naval warfare. Establishing training, techniques, and procedures for coordination within a Carrier Battle Group is no easy task. Landing on a Carrier deck or taking off from it, even in a calm sea state is one of the most dangerous aspects of naval warfare.
Liaoning has so far made just three visits into the Taiwan Strait and a visit to Hong Kong. It has not ventured into the Open Pacific and has no capability to function and operate towards Sunda or Mallacca Straits, forget the Indian Ocean Region.
China has been in awe and always terrified of aircraft carriers. The Imperial Japanese Navy’s carriers had conducted strikes on the Chinese mainland in support of ground campaigns in the 1930s, The U.S. Navy carriers had conducted airstrikes on Chinese forces supporting the North Koreans during the Korean War. In 1996 during the Third Taiwan Crisis, the United States deployed a carrier battle group near Taiwan in support against any Chinese military misadventures.
So now Beijing is trying to make progress by having a real air carrier in its navy.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy—is modernizing itself with speed. Chinese shipbuilders have built more than one hundred warships in the past decade, a build rate highest in the World.
Most importantly, China now has an indigenous aircraft carrier which as per earlier boastings, by now should have entered naval service.
However it is still undergoing sea trials and may enter service only next year. That is the time when the first Indian indigenous aircraft carrier too will be getting ready for commission.
China is building its second carrier and possibly a third ship is also under construction. Probably China like the USN is thinking of having a CBG centric navy.
Though in this field Indian Navy has a head start. It has been operating Aircraft Carrier since 1961 and used them in 1961 Goa Operations and in 1971 Indo Pak War and for blockade of Pakistan during Kargil conflict. For quite some time India had been operating two Carrier Battle Groups and from next year will again be doing so.
In the foreseeable future India may have to go for a Six Carrier Battle Group Navy to ensure that peace prevails in entire Indo Pacific from African Coast to the Sea off Vladivostok. Therefore India cannot afford any more delay in laying the Keel for it new 75000 (not 65000) ton Aircraft Carrier.