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China plans to have five aircraft carriers in future: Chinese experts

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

plans to operate five aircraft carriers in the near future, including two nuclear-powered ones that would be launched around 2025, according to Chinese military experts.

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

has been operating aircraft carriers since 1961.

Though 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 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.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) will have five aircraft carriers in the near future, country's reported, adding that country's third aircraft carrier is currently being built in

China needs at least five aircraft carriers to fulfill the strategic shifts, state-run quoted Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator,

Wang Yunfei, a naval expert and retired officer, said that China needs six aircraft carriers to ensure enough carriers are on active duty while the others are undergoing maintenance.

China will develop two nuclear-powered carriers, Wang told the daily.

recently announced plans to convert 27,000-ton Izumo-class helicopter destroyers into aircraft carriers, sparking concerns in China.

Reacting to the reports, Song said that Japan's move means a fundamental change in the vessels rather than a simple boost to their combat capabilities.

"The China threat theory is merely an excuse for to do what it wants," Song said.

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 Sea (SCS).

China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and in the Sea, and with in the Sea. 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 Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, 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 in the and acquired 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

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, December 06 2018. 11:45 IST