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Bigger and mightier? China is building third aircraft carrier, say reports

Early this month, China clinched a deal to build a multi-billion dollar port at the strategically important Kyaukpyu in Myanmar

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

China, China flag
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on Monday officially confirmed that it is building its third which is stated to be "bigger and mightier" than the other two warships, a move by to bolster its blue-water capability to operate far from its shores.

A late entrant into aircraft carrier-led naval battleship formations, launched its first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, in 2012, which was a refit of the former Soviet vessel bought from

Though Liaoning was operationalised and led trial expeditions into the Straits, it was widely regarded as an experimental vessel used for mastering technologies, especially to operate the newly built J-15 planes from its deck.

Subsequently, launched its domestically-built second and commissioned it for sea trials last year. The yet to be named ship is expected to be put into service by 2020.

China has launched work of building its third aircraft carrier, official news agency Xinhua reported on Monday.

A "new-generation carrier" is being constructed at the shipyard as per schedule, the state-run China Daily reported quoting Xinhua.

The Xinhua article, which was intended to mark the sixth anniversary of the first take-off and landing by a Chinese fighter on the country's first CNS Liaoning, the report said, without elaborating about the programme of the "new-generation carrier".

The Xinhua article is the first official confirmation that China is building a third aircraft carrier, it said.

The China Daily report referred to the speculation that the China State Shipbuilding Corp's Jiangnan Shipyard Group in is building a "bigger and mightier" than the Liaoning and the second carrier.

An official at the China State Shipbuilding Corp's headquarters in Beijing, however, refused to comment on the issue.

Also, information officers of the People's Liberation Army could not be reached, the report said.

China has been secretive about the construction of its aircraft carriers, though the official media periodically releases sketchy reports.

Officials say the rapid acquisition of aircraft carriers by China is of concerns to too, as the Indian Navy, which is operating aircraft carriers since 1961, is currently operating only INS Vikaramaditya. The home-made INS Vikrant expected to launch sea trials in 2020.

China is in a hurry to acquire the aircraft carriers as it rapidly expanded the coupled with the acquisition of naval bases aboard to back up its growing influence abroad, especially in the and the (SCS).

China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and in the South China Sea, and with in the Both the areas are stated to be rich in minerals, and other natural resources. They are also vital to global trade.

China claims almost all of the Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and have counter claims over the area.

The US has been conducting regular patrols in the to assert freedom of navigation in the area where has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region.

It has already operationalised its base at Djibouti in the and acquired Sri Lanka's Hambantota port on a debt swap. China is developing the Pakistan's deep water in the

Early this month, China clinched a deal to build a multi-billion dollar port at the strategically important Kyaukpyu in Myanmar, located in the Bay of Bengal.

China's aircraft carrier programme, involving billions of dollars, also faced problems such as corruption scandal and other issues related to the functioning of J-15 planes.

Sun Bo, General Manager of the state-run China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, which built the second aircraft carrier, has been detained and investigated for corruption in June this year.

According to media reports in July, in a major setback to China's fast paced aircraft carrier programme, scrambled to build a new fighter jet to operate from the deck of an aircraft carrier after the present J-15 planes met with mechanical failures and crashes.

First Published: Mon, November 26 2018. 13:30 IST