China’s navy achieved a new milestone with the trials of its first domestically built aircraft carrier.
There is one operational carrier, the Liaoning, with the Chinese Navy, the Liaoning, — which is officially known as the People’s Liberation Army Navy. That carrier was purchased in an unfinished state from Ukraine following the collapse of the Soviet Union. That ship was completed and commissioned in 2016 which placed China in a small league of nations that operated and maintain aircraft carriers.
At the naval parade of 48 ships attended last month by China’s leader, Xi Jinping, the Liaoning was at the center of attention. It apparently is also a training vessel in addition to being a combat ship.
The focus of the Chinese government has been to modernize its navy, air force and missile forces with technology in st6ead of relying on the traditional focus of depending in the ground forces of the People’s Liberation Army for defending the mainland against an invasion. This has been the policy that has been undertaken by Xi ever since he took office as the President of the country.
According to Chinese and foreign experts, Liaoning formed the basis for the design of the new carrier that was constructed by the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company.
A comparison of the new and the older carrier was published in the Global Times, a Chinese newspaper, which showed that the new one is slightly longer and wider. The report said that the new carrier would be able to 32 to 36 J-15 fighter jets while the older one had a capability of 24.
In comparison, the American carrier Gerald R. Ford is able to carry 75 aircrafts. Moreover, both the Chinese carriers are traditionally powered unlike the American ones which are nuclear powered.
“The main tests will be of the reliability and stability of the mechanical systems and related equipment,” an article on the website of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said on Sunday.
Aircraft carriers cost a lot of money and are complex to operate and maintain and many consider that they are no more as effective as they had bene earlier. carriers have been made increasingly vulnerable to attacks by anti-ship missiles and other new weaponry, according to some military experts.
Despite that, aircraft carriers are still a way to display power and indications of the reach of a country’s navy. That attaches high symbolic value to them.
It is however still unclear when the ne carrier would be formally commissioned to be a part of the Chinese navy. While there are some reports that it can be commissioned later this year, The Global Times reported that would not be ready until 2020
(Adapted from NYTimes.com)