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China to develop more aircraft carriers

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The sole aircraft carrier of China, the Liaoning. A file photo

BEIJING (PTI): Buoyed by successful trials of its first aircraft carrier, China plans to build more new carriers as it looks to spread out its global naval presence in the midst of maritime disputes with a host of neighbours.

China is planning to build more aircraft carriers in addition to the two-year-old Liaoning, which it purchased from Ukraine and commissioned in 2012, state-run Global Times reported Monday.

Although Chinese authorities have never openly confirmed whether a homemade carrier is underway, they have also never denied it.

Ministry of National Defence spokesman Yang Yujun said last August that although the Liaoning is China's first aircraft carrier, "there will surely be more in future."

He said China will consider the development of aircraft carriers in accordance with its national defence needs.

Military experts confirm that the country needs at least three carriers to form a basic battle force, the Global Times report said.

Du Wenlong, a research fellow at the PLA Academy of Military Science, told the daily that China should deploy at least that amount.

With three carriers, one is always available for operational missions, while the second is used for training and the third is re-supplied and retrofitted.

Du also said that most missions require at least two carriers working together.

While China was involved in maritime disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan in South China Sea, it competed with Japan in asserting its sovereignty over the disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Chinese Navy too scaled up its presence in the Indian Ocean, where China has funded a number of ports in Sri Lanka and other countries.

China recently denied reports that it plans to establish 18 naval bases while asserting that its submarine's presence in Colombo port was only for refueling purposes.

Although Chinese authorities have claimed that China's aircraft carrier is not being built with a specific target in mind, military experts said that to maintain China's maritime rights, the country's navy will have to break the "first island chain" blockade to gain access to the Indian Ocean, the report said.

The Chinese navy's experience in testing and training on the Liaoning will have important implications for China's future homemade carriers, it said.

The report, quoting military experts, said China's military logistics infrastructure will soon be mature enough to allow the country's new homemade carrier, once completed and commissioned, to form a powerful battle force.

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