23 January 2014

Four aircraft carriers

A recent report on DefenseTech about China building four aircraft carriers states:

"Chinese leaders plan on building four aircraft carriers for its navy, a Chinese official said in comments that have since been removed from a Chinese media site.
Liaoning party chief Wang Min said the Chinese navy had started work on the country’s second aircraft carrier and had plans for four, according to the South China Morning Post."
My thoughts are that the Chinese would need to develop a set of naval doctrines with regards to operating aircraft carriers first. A set of operating doctrines would need to be developed through operating the Liaoning and the second carrier when it is finished.

Secondly, the Chinese has not got the experience in building nor designing aircraft carriers. Is this going to be a copy of the unproven Russian carrier? And building four of them? Four more Liaoning carriers? I would venture that this would be a plan that would be three decades in the making. There would likely be changes in the interim.

Creating the necessary naval aviation and all the support structures will take time. The AWACS, the anti-sub assets, and more would need to be designed and built too.

Similarly, there will be a need in creating a carrier group for carriers do not operate in isolation. There would be all the attendant vessels that need to be built and crewed.

This is a vast undertaking. It would be decades before China has four carriers operational at the same time. By then, the Liaoning would be retired in all probability.

Would the Chinese economy still be able to support the building of such carriers then? Would there be the political will to build them then?

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