Thursday, March 29, 2007

Red China wants to play in the big leagues

China has been pushing ahead with construction of a mega-sized nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be completed in 2020, according to a Chinese Communist Party's dossier.

A source close to Chinese military affairs said on March 27 that China has been promoting the construction of a 93,000-ton atomic-powered carrier under a plan titled the "085 Project." The nation also has a plan to build a 48,000-ton non-nuclear-powered carrier under the so-called "089 Project," added the source.

The source made such remarks based on government a dossier that reveals that China’s Central Military Commision recently approved the two projects. The dossier also contained specifications of the aircraft carriers.

[. . .]

Once the proposed Chinese carriers are deployed, the radius of the Chinese Navy’s range is expected to reach Guam, where a U.S. base is located. Thus, military experts are worried about China’s moves prompting an arms race in Northeast Asia.

The dossier said the construction of the nuclear-powered carrier will be completed in 2020. China State Shipbuiling Corp’s Jiangnan shipyard located on Changxing Island near Shanghai, will be responsible for its design and construction. The size is similar to former Soviet’s unfinished atomic-powered carrier Ulyanovsk, the dossier states. China reportedly secretly purchased the design of Ulyanovsk from Russia. When the nuclear-powered carrier is finished, China will own an aircraft carrier which is on par with the U.S.’s newest of such vessels, the 97,000-ton atomic-powered USS Ronald Reagan, which recently docked at Busan Port to participate in a joint exercise between the South Korean and U.S. militaries.

The Chinese may build a carrier which is "on par" with the Ronald Reagan and her sisters as far as size, but it will definitely not be their equivalent in capability, either the ship or the aircraft it will carry.

And when you factor in the soon to be deployed new generation of carriers (starting with the USS Gerald Ford) and the F-35 Lightening II fighters which it will carry the gap will open even more.

I'm afraid that the Chinese are just going to spend several tens of billions of dollars building great big floating targets for our gunners and naval aviators.

I can hardly wait for the show.