U.S. military dominance in the Indo-Pacific spurs Chinese naval heft

The Type 003 that is under construction in Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard, is being developed on the same lines as the U.S. Navy’s super-carriers, says a National Interest article.

China has crossed yet another milestone for inducting a new aircraft carrier as part of its naval expansion to counter the military dominance of the United States in the Western Pacific.

Chinese state media is reporting that China’s second aircraft carrier, Type 002, being built at Dalian shipyard, has started the second phase of sea trials.

Sea trails are essential to test and fine tune a brand new ship’s complex systems, paving the way for its entry into the navy.

The state-run China Daily is reporting a unnamed Chinese navy researcher that he expected the second sea trial to mainly verify the carrier’s communication, navigation and other electronic and mechanical instruments.

But analysts say that the China’s new warship is unlikely to become a game changer. For starters, it appears similar to Liaoning — China’s only aircraft carrier bought from Ukraine. The Liaoning underwent 10 sea trials starting in August 2011 before entering service in September 2012.

The new warship has an estimated displacement of around 50,000 tonnes, similar to that of Liaoning.

The National Interest — a U.S. publication — points out on its website that Type 002 retains conventional propulsion and a ski-jump for assisted takeoffs, quite like the Liaoning. There are only minor changes in the superstructure, including new advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) radars. The new carrier will board 24 to 30 J-15 fighters — slightly more than Liaoning.

Nevertheless, the second carrier, which is likely to be named CNS Shandong, shows a step-by-step advancement of China’s ability to build aircraft carriers, which are necessary for dominating designated

swathes of ocean space.

The Type 002, however, compares poorly with much larger U.S. aircraft carriers, which usually have a more than 85,000 tonne displacement.

There is also no comparison in force deployments either. During specific events, the U.S. has deployed up to three aircraft carrier strike groups in the Western Pacific alone, not far from China.

It is likely that the US military power will be further enhanced in the Indo-Pacific under the Trump administration, which is already engaged in a trade war with China. Ahead of his appointment as the

head of the newly formed U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), Admiral Philip Davidson has asserted that he will work to recalibrate U.S. force posture in the Indo-Pacific region to ensure “continued combat readiness of assigned forces in the western Pacific (and) developing an updated footprint that accounts for China’s rapid modernisation”. A posting on the USINDOPACOM website also stressed that the “Chinese government seeks to overturn the established international order that has kept the peace in the region since World War II and allowed Asian countries to develop”— a perfect justification for further U.S. military expansion.

However, unlike the Type 002, China is also working on third aircraft carrier in Shanghai, which will stand in the premier league of similar platforms.

The Type 003 that is under construction in Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard, is being developed on the same lines as the U.S. Navy’s super-carriers, says another National Interest article. The new ship will be powered by a nuclear engine. It will also use either steam or electromagnetic catapults to launch planes on-board.

It is estimated that by 2020, the Chinese navy will have 351 warships — a significant advance form the present level, but no match to the heavy arsenal of the USINDOPACOM spread across a string of

military bases in the Indo-Pacific.

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