China’s Aircraft Carrier not threat, but expanding Naval footprint in Indian Ocean a big concern


Highlights
  • It will take Beijing at least five years to make the 50,000-tonne warship capable of being deployed
  • But China’s rapid expansion in long-range naval deployments is alarming
  • China is also “strategically encircling” India by deepening links with Mauritius, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar etc

The Indian defence establishment is not too disconcerted by the “launch” of China’s first indigenous aircraft carrier in itself, holding that it will take Beijing at least five years to make the 50,000-tonne warship capable of being deployed as a potent offensive weapons platform on the high seas.

But what continues to send alarm bells clanging here is the rapid expansion in long-range naval deployments by the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN), which ominously include regular forays by its nuclear and conventional submarines in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) on the pretext of anti-piracy patrols since December 2013.

Moreover, China’s continues to “strategically encircle” India by further deepening its maritime links with eastern Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia, among others, even though its primary aim is to secure its trade and energy sea routes.

“The launch of the half-finished carrier does not amount to much in real terms. But India can ill-afford to ignore China’s continuing quest to go global in the maritime domain, which has been its major focus area since 2009. It already has Gwadar Port in Pakistan and the naval base in Djibouti,” said a senior officer.

China eventually wants to have six aircraft carriers, with at least two of them being nuclear-powered for longer operational endurance. With the aim to deploy two carriers each in the Pacific and IOR, China fast-tracked its already extensive warship construction plans after inducting its first carrier, the 65,000-tonne Liaoning, in September 2012.

The assessment, however, is that China will take some years to attain requisite expertise in the highly-complex art of operating fighters from carriers. India, on the other hand, has operated “flattops” since it inducted its first carrier in 1961.

But India is slowly squandering its edge in this arena, having miserably floundered in executing its long-standing plan to have three aircraft carriers, with one each for the western and eastern seaboards and the third in reserve for maintenance refits.

India will have to soldier on with just the 44,570-tonne INS Vikramaditya for the next three to four years. The commissioning of first indigenous aircraft carrier, the 40,000-tonne INS Vikrant, which was “launched” at the Cochin Shipyard in 2013 after being approved way back in 2003, has now been further delayed to 2020.

The second indigenous carrier, the 65,000-tonne INS Vishal, in turn, is just at the conceptual stage as of now. The defence ministry in May 2015 had sanctioned an initial Rs 30 crore as seed money for this project, but neither was the entire amount allocated, nor has the detailed project report been approved till now. It will take well over 10 years for the carrier to be ready once the construction actually kicks off.

The Navy, on its part, wants INS Vishal to have nuclear propulsion as well as CATOBAR (catapult assisted take-off but arrested recovery) configuration for launching fighters as well as heavier aircraft from its deck.

 

 

 

 

 

Source:- TNN

The post China’s Aircraft Carrier not threat, but expanding Naval footprint in Indian Ocean a big concern appeared first on Indian Defence Update.



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