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China likely to have third aircraft carrier: Official media

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BEIJING (PTI): China is expected to build a third aircraft carrier, official media has said even as the country constructs its second one at a rapid pace and its first carrier conducted live firing exercises in the disputed South China Sea.

"China may have third aircraft carrier battle groups," state-run People's Daily Online reported quoting military expert Liang Fang.

"At present, China's second aircraft carrier is under construction. In the near future, the Chinese navy is expected to own a third aircraft carrier battle group, capable of safeguarding territorial sovereignty and maritime rights," said Liang on 6th Jan 2017.

Liang noted that China is developing its aircraft carrier technology to defend national interests rather than to seek hegemony.

Liang said that Chinese military's combat capability has "grown by leaps and bounds" in the past decade.

The Chinese military recently said that second aircraft carrier is being built at steady pace and according to reports it is expected to be ready this year.

Meanwhile, the first carrier Liaoning, which is a Soviet era refurbished ship, is making waves by holding live firing exercises in the South China Sea as Beijing flexed its muscles ahead of US President-elect Donald Trump taking over the office later this month.

As it gets its carrier fleet ready, China is trying to work out carriers battle groups.

Liang said that although the Chinese aircraft carrier battle group is not comparable with its US counterpart in tonnage or number of aircraft, it nevertheless boasts "stamina and a bright future".

Liang said that, from the perspective of future development, the US military clearly lacks stamina, and the country's insufficient military spending is proof of that.

"In addition, frequent problems with US Navy Super Hornet, F-35C and other carrier-borne fighters have seriously hampered the aircraft carriers' combat capability."

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