China has launched its first indigenously built aircraft carrier following the 68th-anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Chinese navy. It is China’s second aircraft carrier built in the north-eastern port of Dalian. The new aircraft carrier will be able to operate China’s Shenyang J-15 fighter jets and will be more dedicated to military and humanitarian operations.
The design of the new aircraft carrier has been obtained from China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China.
Although the aircraft carrier is not expected to enter service until 2020, it will tremendously boost the blue water capabilities of Chinese Navy. However, little is known China’s aircraft carrier program which is kept as a secret. As per the foreign military analysts, the presence of two aircraft carriers has made China the most powerful maritime force in the Asia-Pacific. As per the analysts, China’s aircraft carrier programme is aimed at eroding U.S. military prominence in the region.
A blue-water navy is a maritime force having the capability to operate globally across the deep waters of open oceans.
China has the second largest military budget in the world. Although, the design of China’s aircraft carriers would give its fighter jets enough lift to take off from their shorter decks they lack the powerful catapult technology for launching aircraft as seen in U.S. navy’s longer-range nuclear carriers.
With China’s ambitious claims of almost all the South China Sea in which other countries like Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims, experts feel that the country will need at least six carriers. The United States, for instance, operates 10 aircraft carriers and plans to build two more carriers in the future.