China’s indigenous third aircraft carrier is close to completion and may soon to be deployed in the in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.According to a South China Morning Post report, the Jiangnan Shipyard Group has been given the responsibility to go ahead with the installing the equipment. State- run news agency Xinhua mentions that the destroyer will be equipped with new air defense, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons. The Global Times quoted Song Xiaojun, a Beijing-based military affairs commentator as saying, “Uncertainties still exist after the hardware is finalized on the destroyer, as the new facilities and weapons still need more tests. The maintenance and use of the new facilities also need coordinated efforts from the shipbuilder and user, meaning the PLA Navy.” Xiaojun however said that it will still be some time before the destroyer is capable of being used in combat. The PLA Navy has three home built carriers, excluding the Liaoning, a decades-old Soviet ship Beijing bought from Ukraine and refurbished to practice carrier operations. The Type 001A (CV-17), first domestically designed aircraft carrier Shandong, was launched in April 2017 at the Dalian shipyard in Liaoning Province by China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation. It is expected to enter service by the end of 2018. China is on record as saying that it will be building more of the destroyers to meet its navy’s increasing demand for modern warships as reported by SCMP. The vessel will have to undergo testing, including its equipment, berthing and sailing, before it is commissioned for use. According to Chinese naval experts, it is too early to say when the third vessel would be launched, but China plans to have four aircraft carrier battle groups in service by 2030. “The news is a sign that the destroyer will soon be delivered and put into service as all the major works are in their final stages,” Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Global Times. China is trying to build up a blue-water navy as it looks to expand its maritime influence globally.
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