New Chinese Super Carrier So Weak It Has To Stay Near Bases To Avoid Sinking During Conflict


China recently launched a new aircraft carrier for final sea trials that has been billed as the height of military advancement. And at first glance, that certainly appears to be the case.

The new aircraft carrier is quite large and features a neat-looking ramp at the forward end of the deck that one would assume would be beneficial to aiding jets with takeoff along the short runway.

But according to a report from the Washington Examiner, looks are about the only thing this aircraft carrier has going for it. Apparently, it was built more for political prestige than advancing or sustaining actual combat power.

The new carrier — known as the Type-001A, and China’s first fully self-constructed carrier — is expected to be fully operational by next year, but it likely won’t see much, if any, actual operational duty due to a number of significant weaknesses inherent in the design.

The first such weakness is that it is based off of the aged design of an older Soviet Union-designed carrier, which places it at a disadvantage to newer carriers operated by likely rivals in the region, such as Australia, Japan and, of course, the United States.

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The neat-looking ski-jump ramp at the front of the deck is actually a hindrance to the carrier’s capabilities, as only older fighter jets are able to launch from it, meaning newer and more advanced fighter jets are incapable of landing on or launching from the carriers.

The lack of new, advanced fighter jets in its arsenal means the carrier can’t venture much further than the range of air cover provided by land-based aircraft in China, lest it be largely defenseless to an attack.

Nor can China rely on air cover provided by the makeshift military bases they’ve built in the South China Sea to protect the carriers, as those small man-made islands would almost certainly be vulnerable to rapid destruction in an opening round of strikes, should a military conflict break out.

Without the air cover from land-based aircraft in China, the carriers risk being sunk at sea by rival nation submarines or airstrikes, but the inability to stray further than land-based air cover pretty much defeats the primary purpose of an aircraft carrier in the first place, rendering them completely impotent and worthless.

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But the Examiner noted that military power and war-fighting capabilities weren’t really the main goal sought after by the development of these carriers. Instead, they were intended as a sort of propagandistic display of political prestige on the part of China’s Chairman Xi Jinping.

Indeed, showing the new carriers setting out to sea serves as a message to Xi’s domestic audience in China that their nation is a military superpower that is willing and able to stand up to U.S. dominance in international waters.

That same message is also sent to smaller nations in the region that are heavily influenced by China — such as Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, among others — who are reluctant to support China’s expansionist agenda but are equally, if not more so, reluctant to end up on their bad side.

The fact these carriers wouldn’t last long in an actual fight with the U.S. Navy and Air Force is beside the point. It is the perception that China is ready and willing to take on the U.S. and claim dominance in the region that is the goal here.

To be sure, though it is nearly certain that China’s new carriers would be quickly destroyed in actual combat, the U.S. military shouldn’t become overly confident that the rest of a military conflict would China would go as easily, as China’s carriers were never intended to be a major threat.

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Instead, that threat rests with China’s diverse array of highly advanced missiles — particularly of the anti-ship variety — as well as the swarming-style of attack they prefer to use with submarines and aircraft, any of which could send America’s military naval vessels to the ocean floor.

There is no need for anybody to get worked up over China’s new aircraft carriers, which are largely useless and are basically for show … but that doesn’t mean the growing threat from China should be similarly dismissed altogether. So, we can laugh knowingly at their ridiculous new carriers while keeping a very wary eye on their substantial stock of missiles, the actual threat we should be concerned about.

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Ben Marquis is a writer who identifies as a constitutional conservative/libertarian. He has written about current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. His focus is on protecting the First and Second Amendments.
Ben Marquis has written on current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. He reads voraciously and writes about the news of the day from a conservative-libertarian perspective. He is an advocate for a more constitutional government and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, which protects the rest of our natural rights. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the love of his life as well as four dogs and four cats.
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