China's and India's carriers ambitions.

China's and India's carriers ambitions

and South East Asia.

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China's CV-16 Liaoning, ex Varyag, conventionally powered aircraft carrier, was on all news channels during its first sea trials after his retrofitting in Dalian shipyard. This former soviet rusty hull was bought to Russia in 1998.  But China was, after commissioning its first aircraft carrier, the last member of the BRIC(S) to acquire one ( Russia inherited the Kuznetsov, India bought the HMS Hercules in 1957 and the HMS Hermes in 1986, Brazil bought the HMS Vengeance in 1956 and the French Foch in 2000.) and the second country of South East Asia after Thailand to own one ( Thailand ordered HTMS Chakri Naruebet to Spain in 1992.) 

 click for larger resolution
Infographic by LMV, all rights reserved (see Contact/Our maps)
HTMS Chakri Naruebet. The Asian financial
crisis in 1997 prevented the ship to be really
operational, she spent most of its time in port.
But she provides a valuable asset to the Royal
Thai Navy during disaster relief operations.

This carrier, while mainly a training carrier for Chinese future naval aviation, as received a lot of new equipment, including an AESA radar and modern rolling air frame CIWS. All those modern equipments make the Liaoning a real carrier for war operations. The People Liberation Army Navy  (PLAN) is currently acquiring new air defence destroyers and multi-role frigates as well as replenishment ships. The PLAN air arm is also receiving new carrier fighter J-15 and Ka-31 AEW (Airborn Early Warning) helicopters. All the ingredients are present for a future Chinese carrier strike group. China is also strengthening its amphibious capabilities, already 3 Type-071 LPD (Landing Platform Dock) have been launched, together with hovercraft and amphibious assault vehicles for Over The Horizon (OTH) amphibious operations. Those new naval capabilities available for Beijing are a determinant factor in the South China Sea tensions around the Spratley islands.


The Indian Navy (IN) has been operating carriers since 1961, when the INS Vikrant (ex HMS Hercules) was commissioned. Two months later, the first planes of the carrier air wing were landing on her flight deck.


One of the twelve P-8I MMA ordered
by the Indian Navy. Deliveries started
in  may 2013. Average cost per plane
is $220 million.
Even though India has a relatively small navy compared to China,
it is currently building one indigenous carrier (Vikrant class), and another one is planned, India is also building an indigenous nuclear powered attack submarine. This rapid build up in the IN shows that Chinese military rise in the region is taken seriously by Indian leaders; India was alarmed by the frequent contact its navy reported with Chinese nuclear submarines in the Indian Ocean. To face this new threat the Indian Navy ordered 12 P-8I Poseidon Multimission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) in 2009, those MMA will replace the ageing TU-142M fleet and provide the IN with advanced detecting and tracking as well as strike capabilities in ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) and might disheartened Chinese submarines incursions.

The IN Naval Air Arm has a long experience compared to China, it has been operating aboard carrier for 52 years and has seen combat 4 times. Even though China has commissioned its first J-15 squadron, it is only a training squadron and it might take 4 to 5 years for China to activate a working air wing for its carrier, while India is likely to have completed full integration of the INS Vikramaditya and its air wing into the IN in a year or two after the delivery (planned in 2013 after delays, initially 2008). The Indian Navy plans to operate at least two carrier group, one in the gulf of Bengal and one in the Arabian sea.

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