The Pentagon noted in its annual report to Congress that China is making steady progress toward becoming a naval power, commenting that the country’s navy “continues to develop into a global force” able to project its power beyond the coast.
“The PLAN [People’s Liberation Army-Navy] continues to develop into a global force, gradually extending its operational reach beyond East Asia into a sustained ability to operate at increasingly longer ranges,” the Office of the Secretary of Defense wrote in its annual report to Congress on China’s military developments, which it delivered on May 2. “The PLAN’s latest surface and subsurface platforms enable combat operations beyond the reach of China’s land-based defenses.”
“In particular, China’s aircraft carrier and planned follow-on carriers, once operational, will extend air defense coverage beyond the range of coastal and shipboard missile systems and will enable task group operations at increasingly longer ranges,” the report notes.
The Pentagon anticipates that Type001a, China’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier, will enter service with the fleet before the year is out, and that a third carrier, begun last year, will join the force before 2022. The Type 001a design leans very heavily on the Liaoning, a Kuznetsov-class carrier China bought from Ukraine in 2002 as a rusting shell before finishing and upgrading the ship. Liaoning was commissioned in 2012, but only last month did Beijing…