26 April 2017

China Launches First Home Built Aircraft Carrier, Boosting Naval Power

Jeremy Page, “China Launches First Home Built Aircraft Carrier, Boosting Naval Power,” Wall Street Journal, 26 April 2017.

Beijing’s second carrier will undergo two years of trials before becoming operational

BEIJING—China launched its second aircraft carrier—and the first one entirely home-built—taking another stride in its quest for a world-class navy that can protect Chinese economic and security interests far from its shores.

The new carrier, festooned in red flags and ribbons, was transferred from dry dock into the water in a shipyard ceremony in the northeastern port city of Dalian on Wednesday…. About two years of sea trials are expected before the still unnamed ship becomes fully operational, Chinese and Western military experts say. …

“China wants to put an emerging trickle of aircraft carriers at the center of basic blue water operations: dazzling with naval diplomacy, strengthening influence across strategic sea lanes, and responding to emergencies that don’t require fighting other great powers,” said Andrew Erickson, an expert on China’s military at the U.S. Naval War College.

He said that other evidence of China’s long term plans included construction of a new class of supply vessels modeled on leading U.S. counterparts, a new class of cruisers designed in part to protect carriers, and its first overseas naval facility in the east African nation of Djibouti.

China “appears to be priming other ports to support its growing seaward presence,” Mr. Erickson said. …

The new carrier is conventionally-powered, like the Liaoning, and uses the same ski-jump runway to launch J-15 fighter jets….

But China’s new carrier is designed to carry more ammunition, fuel and aircraft and is likely to be used for actual operations including sea lane patrols and humanitarian missions, according to Chinese officers and military experts.