Monday, May 28, 2007

Chinese Interested in Building Aircraft Carriers

Richard Halloran via RCP. Now this is a bit disturbing, not sure what they think they need a CVA for, if not to try to intimidate their neighbors, or try to slug it out with another Pacific power, namely, the US of A.

US Admiral Tim Keating, fresh from a visit with military counterparts in the People's Republic, indicated officials there are very, very interested in constructing their own CVAs. While they have long expressed interest in carriers (as long ago as 1977), that interest seems to have become magnified recently after the rapid US and allied response to the Suamtran tsunami of 2004, which caused Chinese leadership some embarassment with their inability to repsond themselves.

"Internal discussion and external speculation over China's acquisition of an aircraft carrier has been churning along for at least 25 years but now seems to have picked up momentum. Keating said he sensed that, just below the surface, the Chinese saw aircraft carriers as potent symbols of great power status, a clear Chinese aspiration."

Other reasons the Chinese wish to pursue naval aviation are for the capability to project military power, the ability to defend their oil lifeline through the Straits of Malacca, and their regional rivalries with India and Japan, both of whom boast a more significant surface navy. The Chinese have traditionally focused on acquiring submarine technology, particulary quiet diesel electric boats. This shift in thinking and priorities toward naval airpower might be reflected as soon as their next 5 year military budget, which will be formulated in 2011.

At least we have several years to study the issue and determine what, if any, response we should take. Building a CVA takes us several years, not sure if the Chinese could produce one any faster, although I'm sure they could likely gather the materials pretty quickly.

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