BEIJING: China has launched two powerful naval destroyers, is building a massive pier at the Djibouti naval base in the Indian Ocean to dock its aircraft carriers, as the state media described 2019 the “year of harvest” for the Chinese military, which has acquired a whole range of modern weapons.
China has been adding new naval ships on a monthly basis.
China on Friday launched its sixth Type 055 and the 23rd Type 052D guided missile destroyers, state-run Global Times reported on Monday. The ships would be ready for operations in about two years.
Since it rejigged the military doctrine in 2013, the military has reduced the size of the army by three lakh troops and resorted to massive expansion of navy to extend China’s influence and global reach.
A late entrant to the operation of aircraft carriers, China on December 17 launched its second aircraft carrier, Shandong which is bigger than the first one called Liaoning, a refit of the Soviet era ship, commissioned in 2012.
Official media reports said Shandong with a displacement of around 40,000-60,000 tonnes is bigger than Liaoning and could house 36 fighter jets compared to 24 by Liaoning, besides helicopters.
China plans to acquire about five to six aircraft carriers in the coming years, according to state media reports.
Meanwhile, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Col Wu Qian has confirmed reports that China is building a 400 metre-long pier at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa to dock its aircraft carriers there.
“The construction of relevant facilities is progressing as planned,” he said, answering a question whether it was meant for aircraft carriers.
“The construction and use of the facilities is to better fulfil China’s international obligations in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia, such as escort missions and humanitarian assistance. It will help China make new and greater contributions to maintaining peace and stability in Africa and the world,” he said.
China terms Djibouti base as a logistics base for its naval fleet taking part in the anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. Located in the Indian Ocean, it is Chinese navy’s first base far from home. Later, China also acquired the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka in 2017 as debt swap, raising concerns in India.
According to official media reports, Liaoning is being used for training pilots and personnel while Shandong would be deployed in the disputed South China Sea where China’s sovereignty claims are being challenged by Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan.
The next fleet of aircraft carriers were expected to be deployed in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere.
With the launch of new destroyers, the Navy will become significantly more powerful and capable of safeguarding China’s sovereignty and overseas interests, Global Times quoted an expert as saying.
The daily also said the year 2019 has been a “year of harvest” for China’s military equipment, as the country showcased a “massive selection” of the latest, advanced and powerful weapons that operates on land, sea and air.
Besides the two new destroyers, China unveiled its first Type 055 battle ship Nanchang in April.
The Type 055 destroyer has high firepower with 112 vertical launch missile cells, the report said. In September, China has also launched its first amphibious assault ship Type 075, which fills a gap in China’s large warships development, experts told the daily.
While the second aircraft carrier has been launched, China’s Air Force received a new strategic bomber, the H-6N.
Also the Chinese military launched the WZ-8 high-altitude, high-speed reconnaissance drone and GJ-11 stealth attack drones. The domestically developed utility helicopter Z-20 also entered service, the report said.
The Chinese army has also commissioned Type 15 light battle tank to be deployed in high altitude Tibet. Together with the Type 99 main battle tank and other armoured vehicles, China can launch armoured assaults on all terrains including water-dense, muddy, rugged and high altitude, the report said.
At its military parade this year, China has also revealed its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile: the DF-41, which can carry multiple independently targetable nuclear warheads capable of hitting anywhere on Earth, the report said.
While the official media projects the new weapons systems to showcase China as a rising military power next only to the US and Russia, defence experts say that much of the new weaponry is yet to be tested in real battle conditions to prove their efficacy.
Source: Economic Times