China’s indigenously built aircraft carrier ‘Shandong’ starts sea trials; Should India be worried?

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New Delhi | Published: May 14, 2018 4:35:04 PM

The launch of Shandong is strategically very important for India's plan in Indian Ocean Region. Firstly, the new Chinese aircraft carrier has displacement level of 70,000 tons and can carry more number of fighter jets than India's aircraft carrier. It is also equipped with advanced S-band radars and is also armed with HQ-10 missile batteries.

China, Chine military, China aircraft carrier, China carrier, China navy,China?s first domestically built aircraft carrier is seen during its launching ceremony in Dalian, Liaoning province, China, April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

China’s indigenously developed second aircraft carrier, Shandong also called as C-17/ Type 001A started it sea trials on Sunday. The yet to be christened aircraft carrier left the dock of Dalian Ship Building Industry in the North-Eastern Coast of China to begin its much-awaited sea trials. Local media reports suggested that the first round of sea trials will be to test the aircraft carrier’s propulsion, reliability and power. The aircraft will also be tested for its speed, efficiency of communication and radar systems, manoeuvrability and will also be checked for its armament capabilities.

Reports suggested that the trials are going to take place in the Bohai Sea, inner gulfs of Yellow Sea and also in Korean Bay. The surrounding areas near Dalian Sea, parts of Bohai and Yellow seas were cordoned off by the Liaoning Maritime Safety Administration. The activities that are going to take place for eight long days will be crucial for Chinese Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has high expectations from the aircraft carrier.

The launch of Shandong is strategically very important for India’s plan in Indian Ocean Region. Firstly, the new Chinese aircraft carrier has displacement level of 70,000 tons and can carry more number of fighter jets than India’s aircraft carrier. It is also equipped with advanced S-band radars and is also armed with HQ-10 missile batteries. Some experts might see this development as overshadowing India’s aircraft carrier projects. However, it would take a long time for Shandong to be completely operational in the IOR.

Speaking to Financial Express Online, Vice Admiral Bimalendu Guha (Retd) said, “The geopolitical dynamics in high seas have changed since last 18 months. The focus is not just on East of Malacca, but also on the West of Malacca Strait. The Chinese have understood this factor really well and want to influence the entire region. They have established themselves strongly on Djibouti in the West and want to extend the same power over Eastern waters”.

“The Chinese have come to understand that in order to gain control over the region, they also need to use hard power. They have economically established themselves in the Straits of Malacca and Indian Ocean Region, and now they want to reach out militarily. The only way the Chinese can achieve this is by having nuclear submarines or an aircraft carrier in the Indo-Pacific region”, Vice Admiral Guha (Retd) added.

“India is aware of PLAN’s activities in IOR and it has also been closely observing the Chinese developments in the South China Sea. India has now adopted mission based deployment of Naval warships. This is definitely a welcome move to address critical issues in Indian Ocean Region”, Vice Admiral Bimaledu (Retd) Guha told FE Online.

The aircraft carrier which was launched in April last year is an advanced version of China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. Unlike China’s first 60,000-ton aircraft carrier, the Shandong is developed and manufactured completely on domestic soil. It is also different from US-made Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) technology, and instead uses Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) technology. The aircraft carrier will also be able to carry up to 24 Shenyang J-15 multirole fighter jets, 10 rotary wing aircraft, 1 4th Gen Su-33 fighter and also few Harbin-9 fighter copters.

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