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03 July 2017

China’s ‘aircraft carriers’ are unsinkable

Artist’s impression of China’s Type 055 destroyer. Picture: Handout

AMERICA might spend four times as much as China on its military, but one thing money can’t buy is the “tyranny of distance”.

To establish a military presence in Asia for global power, the US would be required to cross the largest ocean in the world and this would only be the first challenge.

Due to its proximity to the battlefield, China is in the perfect location to implement an anti-access/area denial (A2AD) strategy for its own territory.

The Chinese strategy places focus on restricting enemy access to a certain strategic location by combining advanced intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance with advanced targeting, communications, cyber capabilities and naval/air/missile defence.

According to the report China’s A2AD and its Geographic Perspective, the military’s ability to protect the region has increased dramatically in recent times.

“China’s A2AD capability is even more lethal than two decades ago, including cyberwarfare, anti-satellite weapons, carrier-killer missiles and the new-generation ships, planes and drones,” the report reads.

“One of characteristics of the A2AD strategy is the wide proliferation of ballistic and cruise missile technologies and the convergence of Chinese military power around a missile-centric, rather than the conventional platform-centric, model of mass-firepower combat.”

In addition to creating “unsinkable aircraft carriers” in its own territory, China continues to rapidly expand and build its military presence within disputed waters.

Beijing has built new military facilities on islands in the South China Sea, according to a U.S. think tank report. Grace Lee reports.

China’s latest addition to its increasingly powerful navy is the country’s most advanced domestically produced destroyer, which is equipped with the latest air, missile, ship and submarine defence systems.

The 10,000-tonne Type 055 destroyer is the first of four ships China is planning to produce.

“The launch of this ship signifies that our nation’s development of destroyers has reached a new stage,” the navy said.

The Type 055 is significantly larger than China’s other modern destroyer, the Type 052, representing the rising sophistication of China’s defence industries. Once heavily dependent on foreign technology, China in April launched its first aircraft carrier built entirely on its own, based on an earlier Ukrainian model.

Fireworks explore next to China's new domestically-built 10,000-tonne Type 055 destroyer during a launching ceremony at Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, China. (Wang Donghai/Xinhua via AP)

Fireworks explore next to China’s new domestically-built 10,000-tonne Type 055 destroyer during a launching ceremony at Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, China. (Wang Donghai/Xinhua via AP)Source:AP

In terms of displacement, it is roughly equivalent to the Arleigh Burke class of destroyer.

China’s navy is undergoing an ambitious expansion and is projected to have a total of 265-273 warships, submarines and logistics vessels by 2020, according to the Washington-based Centre for Naval Analysis. That compares with 275 deployable battle force ships presently in the US Navy, China’s primary rival in the Asia Pacific, with the once-yawning gap between the two narrowing rapidly.

China says it needs a powerful navy to defend its 14,500km of coastline, as well as its crucial maritime shipping routes.

However, it also appears increasingly willing to challenge actions by the US — long the region’s pre-eminent military power — especially in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety.

— with wires

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