China, the new, rapidly rising world power, has long begun a program to equip its navy with a large fleet of aircraft carriers: for more than half a century. Origins necessary to Drop the power A country on the world stage.
The goal of the People’s Liberation Army Navy is to reach or exceed the number of aircraft carriers deployed by the U.S. Navy by 2050, the main theoretical adversary in control of the seas that concerns both powers closely because of the dispute. To control the trade routes that cross South China Seabut not only.
Beijing invests part of its resources in… building From large ships that aspire to deployment, in addition to conventionally powered aircraft carriers such as Liaoning Type 001 and Shandong Type 002, new carriers will be able to take advantage of the required Nuclear propulsion; It is currently designed and developed to be used for basics Ice breaking ships Send in Strategic region Subordinate North Pole.
Chinese shipyards have been working for years on the next launch of a larger aircraft carrier, Fujian Type 003, which should reach full operation by 2030, becoming the third aircraft carrier to add three helicopter landing units. Type 075. All projects aim to realize China’s maritime potential step by step.The same is the case in the United States“.At least in the number of carriers that have this specific capability.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s aircraft carriers are currently based on groups of multi-role fighters J-15 “Flying Shark”, The aircraft is based on a version of the Sukhoi airframe on which aircraft such as the Su-33 and Su-27 are based, and both aircraft were launched on the Russian aircraft carrier Cruiser. Admiral Kuznetsov From which the first three Chinese units of this type are derived, and the Z-8 multi-role helicopters in transport and anti-submarine warfare versions.
The near future of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy
The Chinese aircraft carriers currently on the line, despite their recent launch, can be considered aircraft carriers that are already close to obsolescence compared to American aircraft carriers. class gerald r. Ford; The leader of her class, the eponymous USS Ford, is already online, which will be joined, in 2024 and 2025, by the USS Kennedy and USS Enterprise as carrier replacements. Nimitz class. This is the reason for the success of the Fujian program and the inclusion of groups that began to focus on the new Chinese fighter capacity stealthily J-31″gyrfalcon“Listed among Dragon’s most ambitious projects.
In addition to the future capability of nuclear propulsion, necessary for long-range patrols without the need to stop in ports, the new generation of Chinese aircraft carriers that will replace the 003 class will benefit from new technology already studied and developed by the Americans and related to Catobar take-off (the abbreviation used for to Catapult Assisted Takeoff/Recovery with takeoff cables) which will depend on the “Electromagnetic energy“.It is known as EMALS.
Beijing is within Washington’s reach to control the seas
Military and political leaders in Beijing have already announced that a new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is already in their plans. The allegations are widespread, although some analysts believe it will take some time before China can develop Nuclear reactor Suitable for aircraft carrier propulsion. A completely different reactor from the one used by the Chinese Navy to propel its recently “modified” Type 093 submarines.
What is more relevant in analyzes based on data and assumptions is that the Chinese Navy can pursue its ambitions, reaching four or five aircraft carrier units by 2030. But given the hull, propulsion and capabilities of the Type 001, 002 and 003, these features can be considered at most on par Equality with US Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. These are nuclear-powered vehicles in use since 1975, includingwe Navy It currently has ten units in addition to the first Ford-class aircraft carrier for a total of 11. The class leader USS Nimitz will be replaced by the aforementioned USS Kennedy, keeping the number of the US carrier fleet constant.
Doubt about the dragon’s new strategic origin
The Beijing Navy – which has never participated in acts of war and therefore cannot guarantee true mastery of combat maneuvers acquired through experience – has always raised the question of what capabilities the Chinese Navy can demonstrate in a real act of war. But “the real question,” as Stephen Bryan wrote in one of his timely analyses, is what will be the case? Survival level Modern Chinese aircraft carriers. A question alluding to the defensive systems and countermeasures that should protect these important naval carriers from missile or torpedo attacks. Not to mention the currentThey are weak“Among the rising J-15 groups. Naval air strategy teaches that carriers and small groups are rising.”Easy targetsFor US aircraft carrier strike groups, and for most modern “anti-ship missiles, cruise missiles and torpedoes”.
the Expansionary ambitions The militarism in the Pacific region manifested by the People’s Republic of China literally “militarizing” the South China Sea has been evident for at least a decade. It will be of great importance in this context to monitor and analyze the actual deployment of these new important units, which have always represented a symbol of power projection, but are unlikely to reach the same number of aircraft carriers deployed by the main forces. Theoretical discount Before 2050. The United States will always be able to count on the cooperation of partner carriers; Such as the two British Queen Elizabeth-class supercarriers, which are already prepared to carry out patrol missions in the Pacific region; French and Japanese units. Meanwhile, Beijing’s announcements about deploying a large fleet of aircraft carriers “close” to the numerical superiority of the US Navy’s veteran fleet of aircraft carriers remain a promise that tends toward distraction.
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