Although China has no experience in constructing a ship the size of an aircraft carrier, the country's strategy on the development of its Navy will help Beijing to ultimately compete with the United States in this field, defense expert Dave Majumdar claimed in an article he had published by the US magazine National Interest.
In the article, titled "Chinese Aircraft Carriers: A Nightmare for the US Navy?" Majumdar recalled that in the decades that have passed since the end of World War II, US aircraft carriers have been "the dominant force across the world's oceans."
"But as of late, there is growing concern that China’s People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) may be stepping up to the plate," the author said.
He also recalled that the former USSR mainly focused on developing the so-called "sea denial" strategy that used a combination of Tu-22M bombers, (NATO classification "Backfire"), submarines and surface naval combat forces armed with long-range anti-ship missiles.
It appears that China also concentrated on working out an anti-access strategy using similar methodology, according to Majumdar.
"Like the Soviets toward the end of the Cold War, the Chinese seem to be intent on developing a blue water surface fleet that might one day be able to challenge the US Navy on the high seas," he pointed out.
He added that for this purpose, China refurbished the decaying hulk of the Varyag, an analogue of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, and recommissioned her as the Liaoning, which Majumdar said will be used by the PLAN as a "training tool to develop the skills necessary to operate a carrier air wing at sea."
The author also noted that the Russian all-weather carrier-based Su-33 fighter jet "gave the Chinese a leg up in the development of a carrier-based warplane called the J-15, which he said has yet to surpass the US multirole carrier-based Super Hornet fighter jet in terms of avionics.
Currently, China's air wing includes twenty-four J-15 fighters, six Z-18F anti-submarine warfare helicopters, four Z-18J airborne early warning helicopters and a pair of Z-9C rescue helicopters, according to Majumdar.
At the same time, he quoted the Pentagon's 2015 report on Chinese military power as saying that the Liaoning aircraft carrier will not enable long-range power projection similar to US Nimitz-class carriers."
"China has no experience building any ship the size of an aircraft carrier — even a moderate-sized one like Liaoning, which was structurally completed in Crimea," Majumdar said.
He concluded the article by suggesting that "it will take time for the PLAN to get to a level of competency where it can have any real shot at going head-to-head with the U.S. Navy in the Western Pacific," something that Majumdar said "might take decades."