China has announced a new push to modernize its naval army with new ships that would sail the seas by 2035. Military officials revealed that the new drive will see the building of at least six aircraft battle groups that will be available for different missions around the world. The fleet will include four new state-of-the-art nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and a number of carrier-borne fighters jet planes.
Military experts familiar with the program revealed that the new aircraft carriers will be coming with the latest naval equipment. This will include new electromagnetic catapults that are similar in design and function to the United States EMALS systems on their own aircraft carriers. The new electromagnetic aircraft launch systems will allow fighter planes to take off much faster than a conventional steam piston and diesel-powered systems.
As of the moment, China only has one active diesel-powered aircraft carrier, called the Liaoning. The ship was commissioned in 2012 and was purchased from Ukraine shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. The ship itself is serving as a training vessel for new naval crew members. There are reports that indicate China’s intent to sell the Liaoning to Pakistan, as part of its program to full upgrade its naval capabilities. Pakistan is apparently also interested in the ship to further buildup its own navy to compete against India’s renewed naval upgrades.
China also has another aircraft carrier called the Type 001A, which it built domestically. The ship is still undergoing rigorous tests and is expected to be fully operational by April of this year. The official launch of the ship is expected to coincide with the Chinese Navy’s 70th anniversary.
According to a former Chinese naval officer, the push to build new ships and planes is an attempt by China to compete with the United States’ already powerful naval capabilities. The United States currently has 11 active nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, which is part of the country’s 490-ship fleet in both in active duty and reserves. Chinese military planners likely want to close that gap with additional ships.
China’s budget for military expenditure has large not been affected by the current economic situation with officials pushing to continue the country’s naval modernization. A substantial chunk of the budget has also been allocated to new stealth fighter designs that will reportedly be close to that of the United States’ F-35 fighter jets in terms of capabilities. Experts believe that China will have to spend a lot more on training its troops as relying only on superior hardware will not be enough.