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Prospects of development of aircraft carrier battle groups of naval forces of the PLA
Material posted: Publication date: 03-06-2020
The military-political leadership of the PRC is working consistently to improve the combat capabilities of the national Navy, able to solve wide range of tasks, both independently and in interaction with other types of aircraft. Based on the experience of the United States, China is actively developing an aircraft carrier fleet component.

The need for construction of modern naval forces and, in particular, carrier strike groups (CSG) is based on the geopolitical challenges facing China at the present stage of development in the future [1].

Currently, China is implementing a large-scale programme for the construction of aircraft carriers national development and formation Aug. So, by 2026 it is planned to form three carrier strike groups, and by 2030 – at least five of them on duty up to two Aug.

Creating a national carrier fleet, the country's leadership seeks to solve the following tasks:

  • the formation of the high combat capabilities of the PLA in the case of a decision of the Taiwan question by force;
  • enhancing the capabilities of the Navy during operations on remote theater;
  • defending the Maritime interests of the state;
  • protection of the merchant fleet and energy security;
  • demonstration of the capabilities of the military industry;
  • ideological and psychological impact;
  • increased international influence [2].

The formation of the high combat capabilities of the PLA in the case of a decision of the Taiwan question by force. Unfolding in the East China sea aircraft carrier battle groups, China can compete with USA in the region and to minimize the ability of Washington to provide military support to Taipei in case of possible military conflict, providing naval blockade of the island. The CDF of China considers this scenario in the context of increasing the combat capabilities of its Navy, including Aug.

The particular relevance of the Taiwan issue has acquired in September 2018, after the decision of the USA about deliveries to the island of spare parts for aircraft (F-16, C-130 and F-5) in the amount of approximately 330 million dollars. In addition, Washington plans to expand military cooperation with Taipei, and in the same year adopted the "Taiwan act movement" (Taiwan Travel Act), authorizing bilateral exchanges of delegations of high-level officials. In addition, in October 2018 Taipei held exercises "to repel the attack of China", which was worked out questions on the destruction of the landing. At the same time, the American ships passed through the Taiwan Strait, so at the end of October 2018 sounded the statement of the Chinese side, "about the increasing probability of solving the Taiwan issue by force".

Enhancing the capabilities of the Navy of the PLA in action at the remote theater. According to the CDF of China, turning the country into a leading world power it is necessary to have a modern Navy that can compete with any Navy in the world in its various aspects, including the aircraft carrier. In this regard, China relies on the US experience, which use of the Navy to "project power" to gain influence in the regions of interest to them.

The formation of aircraft carrier battle groups is carried out in parallel with the establishment of the PRC to its foreign military bases. The first item of material-technical maintenance of the PLA Navy in Djibouti, which also fits into the Chinese strategy of "string of pearls", which involves the creation of a network of naval bases along the coast of the Indian ocean.

In addition, the presence of the aircraft carrier fleet significantly enhances the PLA Navy for the protection and defense of Chinese Maritime exclusive economic zone. Aug will provide greater control over disputed territories in the East China sea (arch. The Senkaku Islands – claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan), South China sea (Paracel Islands – China, Vietnam and Taiwan) and on-the-Spratly Islands (China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan) [3].

Defending the Maritime interests of China. The CDF of the country have given this subject special attention. It is expected that by 2050, China's "sea economy" will reach 30% of GDP due to the increase in volumes of extraction of marine resources and hydrocarbons. The main interests of China are concentrated in the Pacific, in the East China and South China seas (in connection with the availability of marine resources and production of hydrocarbons in the sea shelf). However, with the development of "Maritime silk road of the XXI century" and the growth of Chinese involvement in the Russian Northern sea route, Maritime interests will expand to include new regions, including the Indian and Arctic oceans.

Protection of the merchant fleet and energy security. About 90% of the trade turnover of China and the supply of raw materials is carried out involving Maritime transport. Country for 2018 has the fourth largest merchant fleet in the world and is the third largest shipbuilding capacity. In addition, of the ten largest ports in the world, five belong to China. In this regard, the task of ensuring the security of trade routes and routes of supply of hydrocarbons is one of the priorities for Beijing. There remains the protection of merchant ships from the Middle East (because of the continuing threat of piracy in the Gulf of Aden) via the so-called "Maritime silk road of the XXI century", as well as from Latin America.

Demonstration of the capabilities of the military industry. China has successfully carried out activities on modernization and re-equipment of the heavy aircraft carrier "Varyag", equipped it with modern navigation equipment, weapons, aircraft, "Jian-15" of the national production. In the future, the Navy plans to implement a combined experience landing on aircraft carriers as aircraft and helicopters.

Ideological and psychological impact. In recent years the CDF of the country is actively promoting the idea of "the great revival of the Chinese nation". A special role in this process plays nominated by President XI Jinping, the principle of "the great Chinese dream". The Chinese leadership is conducting active ideological work to spread among the population the idea of "offensive historical moment" of gaining world domination and becoming the leading world power. The development of aircraft carrier fleet is one of the most important factors that increase national pride and patriotism, as well as positively influencing the image of the Communist party of China.

Increased international influence. China by providing an integrated solution of economic, political and military objectives seeking to strengthen its position in the international community and to compete with the U.S. in addressing international issues. The construction of aircraft carriers is one of the most effective means of increasing Chinese influence in the sea, "power projection" and a demonstration of military power. Currently, the Pentagon can form the ten Aug, able to solve problems in various regions of the world. However, the presence of China even a single aircraft carrier poses a threat to the United States in the Asia-Pacific region, giving Beijing a basis for a coherent solution to the territorial disputes in the East China and South China seas, as well as the dissemination of its influence on other regions of the world [4].

Thus, the military-political leadership of China is implementing a large-scale program to create carrier strike groups, which is seen as an important tool in solving a wide spectrum of military, political and geostrategic objectives. These include the efforts of China to create parity with the United States in the Pacific area for the solution, if necessary, the Taiwan question by force, the protection and defense of its exclusive Maritime zones and economic interests in the Pacific. In addition, Beijing seeks to ensure its energy security and protection of commercial vessels in remote regions of the world, which is possible only if the modern Navy and aircraft carrier fleet. Along with this the Chinese leadership enhances the international prestige and influence of the country.

Ruslan Bolonchuk



  1. Andrew Erickson, China's development of carrier strike / Jane's Navy International, August 2017.
  2. Xiandai Jianting / Xiandai Jianting Zazhishe, 2013-2019.
  3. Jianzai wuqi / Haijun Chubanshe, 2013-2019.
  4. Kanwa Defense Review / Asian Defence Center, 2013-2019.

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