More car­ri­ers likely in China

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By ZHAO LEI and ZHOU WA

It’s been less than a year since the Liaon­ing, the Chi­nese navy’s first air­craft car­rier, was put into ac­tive ser­vice, but a De­fense Min­istry spokesman is promis­ing that there will be more car­ri­ers in the fu­ture.

On Thurs­day, Colonel Yang Yu­jun said at a news con­fer­ence that China will con­sider de­vel­op­ing air­craft car­ri­ers in ac­cor­dance with its national de­fense needs.

Yang made the comment in re­sponse to me­dia re­ports that China is, for the first time, do­mes­ti­cally de­vel­op­ing an air­craft car­rier.

The Liaon­ing is a retro­fit­ted for­mer Soviet Union car­rier com­mis­sioned in the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army navy on Sept 25. It can carry about 30 fixed-wing air­craft.

Take­off and land­ing tests of J- 15 fight­ers, the navy’s main strike force, from the Liaon­ing have thus far been suc­cess­ful. The car­rier has also com­pleted three train­ing mis­sions this year.

“How many car­ri­ers the Chi­nese mil­i­tary will build de­pends on its naval strat­egy and the coun­try’s econ­omy,” said Wen Bing, a se­nior re­searcher of the PLA Acad­emy of Mil­i­tary Sciences. “China is still ex­plor­ing how to ef­fec­tively de­velop and use its car­rier bat­tle group, so it is too early to pre­dict the num­ber of car­ri­ers in the fu­ture.”

Wen said China is de­ter­mined to grad­u­ally im­prove its naval prow­ess.

In the near fu­ture, China will not be able to build a car­rier as ad­vanced as those in Western navies, and the na­tion must have a rea­son­able out­look in its plans for de­vel­op­ing car­ri­ers, Wen said.

But Cui Yil­iang, ed­i­tor­inchief of Mod­ern Ships mag­a­zine, of­fered a dif­fer­ent opin­ion.

“Our ship­build­ing sec­tor def­i­nitely has the po­ten­tial to de­velop and build large car­ri­ers be­cause China’s ca­pa­bil­ity in in­dus­trial man­u­fac­tur­ing is stronger than some na­tions that have al­ready built their own car­ri­ers,” Cui said.

In ad­di­tion, the coun­try has ac­cu­mu­lated a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence in re­fit­ting the Liaon­ing, which will sig­nif­i­cantly boost the na­tion’s plans for an in­dige­nous car­rier.

“One car­rier can’t guar­an­tee that we can de­ploy and put into use a car­rier bat­tle group any time in the fu­ture since the gi­ant ship is a very com­pli­cated sys­tem that is prone to a wide va­ri­ety of prob­lems,” said Cui, who added that at least two or three car­ri­ers are needed.

“But the fi­nal de­ci­sion is up to the top lead­ers.” Con­tact the writer at zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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