Is that even possible?
Shortly after China’s first homemade aircraft carrier set off for sea trials on its maiden voyage this week, the Chinese media starting making waves, saying the country’s navy needed four more such vessels to advance the country’s interests in the western Pacific and northern Indian oceans.
Some Chinese papers said the People’s Liberation Army needs a total of six carriers to form convoys and strike groups to project and advance China’s interests in the western Pacific and northern Indian oceans.
Senior Colonel Zhang Ye, a research fellow with the PLA Naval Research Institute, told the People’s Daily that the new carrier, which is due to be delivered to the navy by the end of the year and commissioned within two years, could ply routes in the western Pacific and northern Indian Ocean to safeguard China’s interests in the geopolitical and maritime stakes.
The northern Indian Ocean is a crucial conduit for China’s energy supply and trade flow and there are security concerns in the South China Sea. Six carriers could give China the leverage to maneuver in a worst-case scenario if it had to deal with emergencies on several fronts, said Zhang.
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Within the next decade China may build a third carrier – there have been rumors about its specifications and the site of its construction for some time – enabling an optimal lineup of seagoing bases: one on war-ready standby and patrol, one for training while the other undergoes maintenance.