China will begin construction of the country's first domestically produced aircraft carriers in Shanghai next year, with an eye to completing two mid-sized carriers by 2015, military and shipbuilding sources said.The peaceful rise continues....
Beijing is also expected to complete work on a never-finished former Soviet aircraft carrier moored in the northeastern port of Dalian, to provide training for carrier-based pilots and crew.
The two 50,000- to 60,000-ton carriers will rely on conventional propulsion systems, not nuclear power. They will be assigned to the People's Liberation Army Navy south sea fleet, tasked with patrolling the South China Sea, sources said.
UPDATE: SCMP reports FOUR carriers by 2020, and says:
"Our territorial waters in the South China sea".... whoever thinks Taiwan is "the last piece of the puzzle" is deluding themselves. It is merely the first step to a larger expansion.
The expert said China still had to solve many technical issues such as synchronising different on-board combat systems. The first Chinese carrier would feature new radar, weapons and communications systems, he said. Some are indigenous designs and others would be imported, chiefly from Russia and Ukraine.
Making the different systems work together, though, would be a challenging task.
"As soon as we can get through all these difficulties, we can build as many as we want, because China's capabilities of shipbuilding and copying other countries' technologies are very efficient today," he said. China would not be overambitious and aim for super-aircraft carriers like America's, because the PLA had no intention of becoming a global force like the United States or Russian navies.
"We plan to build four battle groups simply because we need an all-weather navy force to safeguard our energy routes on the high seas as well as to protect our territorial waters in the South China Sea," the source said. Each group would spend three months a year in harbour, on average, for maintenance and repair.
They would be assigned to the PLA's fleets in the South China and East China seas.