The increased activity of the PLA Navy over the past year is a sign that China is starting to work towards the goal of force projection, Moscow-based newspaper the Military-Industrial Courier reported on Aug. 5.
Without an overseas military base network or a fleet of aircraft carriers like the United States, force projection is nigh-on impossible. China is unlikely to have this capability in the medium term. But Beijing is actively developing its carrier force and is researching how carriers can be used in battle.
Analyzing China’s current ability to engage in standard carrier fleet missions is an interesting proposition. First, one needs to analyze China’s first and only active aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and other ships that could potentially form the carrier fleet, for which China will likely employ its most advanced ocean vessels.
After China obtained the hulk of the Soviet-era Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Varyag from Ukraine, the country refitted the vessel using home-grown technology including electronics, weapons systems, air defense supression systems and power system, finally commissioning it as the Liaoning in 2012.
In a combat situation, it is estimated the carrier’s aircraft could destroy three to five small navy fleets in one day, including ballistic missile fleets. Lacking an effective ground targetting system, the carrier-based aircraft on the Liaoning could effectively destroy three to four ground targets, or at most eight to ten. This suggests that a Chinese carrier fleet could fight effectively against an opponent with a weak navy.
Full article: Russian paper evaluates PLA Navy’s future carrier fleet (Want China Times)