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Global Times

Plans of UK, India to deploy aircraft carriers against China of 'no military significance'

Global Times

By Liu Xuanzun Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/6 18:28:40

China's surroundings could soon be infested with foreign aircraft carriers targeting China, with the latest media reports saying the UK is planning to send an aircraft carrier strike group to the western Pacific as soon as early 2021, while India is eyeing the development of a third aircraft carrier.

Both UK and India's aircraft carrier plans will likely face technical issues, and with China's anti-ship ballistic missiles, which are feared even by US aircraft carriers, the two countries' carriers will be militarily insignificant and could be only political stunts, Chinese experts said on Sunday.

The British navy will dispatch an aircraft carrier strike group, including the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, to waters near Japan as soon as early next year, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported on Saturday, citing Japanese government sources.

The British carrier strike group is expected to conduct joint exercises with US and Japanese forces amid "the growing maritime assertiveness of China in the region," the report said.

"The Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier has not yet achieved full combat capability, and its aircraft are also not yet fully ready. Sending a carrier that is not combat-ready to the western Pacific will only expose its shortcomings," Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday.

India is another country that has an aircraft carrier plan in mind against China. Indian Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh said a third Indian aircraft carrier is an operational necessity to counter China's aircraft carrier development plan, the Hindustan Times reported on Saturday.

Song said that India should first finish building its second operational carrier, the country's first indigenous aircraft carrier, before considering a third one. The second one's construction has been delayed for a long time.

India's indigenous aircraft carrier will be commissioned by the end of 2021 or early 2022, a senior Indian Navy officer announced on Wednesday, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported at that time.

Due to India's weak shipbuilding industry and previous record, this is an over-optimistic forecast, Chinese analysts said, noting that even it is commissioned, it could face technical issues in use.

In the possible development of a third carrier, India could become heavily reliant on US support for key technologies, including nuclear-powered devices, catapults and aircraft. This is also bad for India as it will become more dependent on the US, Song said.

Overseas media reported that the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) launched multiple anti-ship ballistic missiles, including the DF-21D and DF-26, into the South China Sea in a military exercise in August after the US sent two aircraft carriers to the region for exercises in July.

It is believed the exercises have deterred US aircraft carriers' provocative activities near China since then.

The UK and India would also need to worry about Chinese anti-ship ballistic missiles, but unlike the US, the two countries are not expecting to actually confront China with their aircraft carriers, Song said.

They only want to show their military presence, and whether their military capabilities are actually significant is not the focus, Song said, noting that they could support the US aircraft carriers in forming into multiple aircraft carrier combat groups, but the US carriers would play the central roles.



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