China’s second aircraft carrier, which is now under construction, will focus more on military operations training and technological experiments to improve its defence systems as the 2.3 million strong PLA undergoes massive revamp.
“This aircraft carrier will have different missions than those for the Liaoning (the country’s first aircraft carrier),” said Senior Captain Zhang Junshe with the People’s Liberation Army Naval Military Studies Research Institute.
“We use the (the first carrier) Liaoning to test the reliability and compatibility of systems on carriers, and to train personnel. The second carrier will mainly do what a genuine aircraft carrier is supposed to do: running combat patrols and delivering humanitarian aid. Liaoning, which was refurbished after its hull was bought from Ukraine is in operation since 2013,” Zhang was quoted as saying by the official People’s Liberation Army Daily.
Zhang said China urgently needs a second carrier, as the country is seeking to improve its defence systems and safeguard national interests.
“The PLA needs at least three aircraft carriers. When it does, one can be on duty, one can train personnel, and the third can receive maintenance,” he said.
China’s second aircraft carrier is under construction in the coastal city of Dalian, Liaoning province, Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told media last week.
The new carrier has been designed in China and will have a displacement of 50,000 metric tons, a conventional power system, and will carry domestically developed J-15 fighter jets and other ship-borne aircraft, Yang said.
The ship will use a ski jump mode for launching fixed-wing aircraft, the same as the Liaoning, he added.
Zhang said the new carrier’s three major systems-power and propulsion, electronic systems and weapons-will all be developed by China and will have better capabilities than those on the Liaoning.
He said China will consider developing a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier after it gains enough experience in operating such large vessels.
As it is set to expand the fleet of aircraft carriers, Chinese defence experts said the PLA need to need to make significant changes following last week’s upgradation of the status of the Missile force to the equal status of army, navy and airforce.
The PLA has re-designated its missile force renaming it as Rocket Force(PRF) and formed a support wing the PLA Strategic Support Force (SSF) to provide electronic and cyber Surveillance.