China is now focused on building a large and the most-advanced unmanned ship as it prepares to unveil the third aircraft carrier. The latter’s launch was reportedly delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Shanghai.
Spearheaded by the Research Institute of the China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited (CSSC), a ceremony was conducted to mark the start of this unmanned ship project.
This indicates that the ship, the most advanced and one-of-its-kind in China, has entered its construction phase, per Thursday’s report.
Boasting a hydrofoil trimaran design, the drone ship is characterized by high speed, super-long endurance, and a domestically constructed propulsion system.
It can conduct missions independently in various scenarios.
China is also preparing to introduce the country’s third aircraft carrier.
It was due to be introduced on the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Day, 23 April, but had to be delayed owing to the two-month COVID outbreak in Shanghai.
With the resumption of work at Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard, the third aircraft carrier may be launched soon enough, a Chinese military expert reported to the Global Times.
There were expectations that China’s third aircraft carrier would most likely be larger than the two launched earlier. It was also thought that it will boast electromagnetic catapults and replace the ski-jump ramps of earlier carriers to launch aircraft.
Recent reports highlight the speedy launch of the aircraft carriers has made way for some technical and repair problems, postponing operational readiness.
In April 2022, Shandong, the second indigenously built aircraft carrier launched in 2019, had to undergo the first maintenance and comprehensive tests.
The Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, a refit of the Soviet-era ship commissioned in 2012, is the only Chinese aircraft carrier with initial operational capabilities so far, or basic combat readiness.
China has introduced Shandong, its first-ever indigenously-built aircraft carrier in 2019. Back then, it had plans for four more.
However, no official reasons have been provided as to why Shandong was unable to reach the combat-readiness level, the Post report informed, sparking speculations that the aircraft carrier encountered operational issues.
China unveiled what was referred to as the first drone aircraft carrier in the world, last month.
The ship can be loaded with 50 unmanned systems, including unmanned drones, underwater vehicles, and boats, a video report from state-run CCTV informed.
With the world’s first drone mother ship, the Chinese military is expected to gather more intelligence in the disputed South China Sea, despite a security analyst assessment finding the ship potentially vulnerable to enemy interference or a technological failure, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported earlier.
The state-run Science and Technology Daily mentioned that the ship would be efficient in the prevention of marine disasters and mitigation, maintenance of offshore wind farms, environmental supervision, and the delivery of precise marine information.
Timothy Heath, a senior security analyst who is associated with the US think tank Rand, reported that the drone mothership could be used for military purposes.
The immediate advantage to the PLA is the increase in knowledge regarding relevant waters via the collection of data by unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).
This can help PLA Navy submarines function with increased confidence as well as effectiveness in those areas.
Heath, however, said that the autonomous vessel ran the risk of electronic jamming as other UUVs.
Besides jamming, drones may also be spoofed – when the communication link gets hijacked and the control of the vehicle has been taken over – or impaired by lasers or weapons.
China is striving to rapidly modernize its Navy. The effort includes building aircraft carriers.
Xi Jinping, the Chinese President who heads the military besides the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), has been involved with extensive reforms in the military domain. For instance, there’s been downsizing of the Army and enhancements in the roles of the Air Force and Navy as Beijing targets global expansion with military bases in Djibouti.
China has taken over the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka for a 99-year lease. It has modernized and expanded Gwadar port of Pakistan, situated in the Arabian Sea.
It has additionally claimed that almost the much-disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, Brunei, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia claim parts of it. Beijing has built military installations and artificial islands in the South China Sea.
References – The Print, Business Standard, Global Times
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