27 April 2017 · 2 min read

China launches its first indigenous aircraft carrier

A show of force which will force the West to take notice

China celebrated the launch of its first domestically built aircraft carrier yesterday (Wednesday 26th April). Known as Type 001A, the ship is as yet unnamed and is the largest ever warship to be built by China. The televised launch comes at a time when tensions are running high in the region’s waters after the US deployed warships and a submarine to the Korean peninsula.

Type 001A will not be operational until 2020, but aircraft carriers are acknowledged to be the best demonstration of hard power and military might. They are imposing, mobile and enable rapid projection of force through fast jets, helicopters, or even self-propelled missiles. This launch symbolises a new and very significant indigenous capability for the Chinese military, and one that will undoubtedly cause concern in the West. The carrier’s full capabilities are unknown by western analysts and the race will now be on establish the threat Type 001A could pose.

The growth rate of Chinese defence spending has slowed in recent years. Last month the Chinese government announced the military budget would increase by about 7% next year, the second year in a row the increases has been less than 10% after a decade of double digit growth. However, the West ignores China at its peril. China not only poses a threat in terms of its own indigenous weapon’s and equipment building capability, but as I noted in my blog last month, Chinese defence companies are now competing with their Western peers to win export orders in the Middle East.

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