An official media report separately disclosed that China has planned to carry out a “large-scale upgrade” of China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and “sell it to Pakistan to compete with India”! It described Pakistan “as the best destination for it” and said that by then the Liaoning, which was commissioned into the PLAN in September 2012, will have served the Chinese Navy for about 18 years. Gwadar and Karachi are already described by Chinese Navy strategists as a “logistics base” and “PLA Navy (PLAN) base” respectively.
PLA Navy (PLAN) strategists are also emphasising the need for carrier battle formations in the East and South China Seas and have said that at least five to six aircraft carriers are required to meet operational needs. There are now clear indications that China has decided to build five aircraft carriers and launch them by 2025-2030. Two of them will be nuclear-powered. Whether a sixth aircraft carrier will be built is still uncertain but, meanwhile, some strategists are pointing to the huge expense of operating a single aircraft carrier.
China plans to operate five aircraft carriers in the near future, including two nuclear-powered ones that would be launched around 2025 to meet the evolving strategic shifts , according to Chinese military experts. A late entrant into aircraft carrier led naval battleship formations, China launched its first aircraft carrier ‘Liaoning’ in 2012, which was a refit of the former Soviet vessel bought from Ukraine. Subsequently, China launched its domestically-built second aircraft carrier 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) Navy will have five aircraft carriers in the near future, country’s official media reported, adding that China’s third aircraft carrier is currently being built in Shanghai.