First it was Nightwatch, and now Navy Times, are highlighting an article that ran in the Japanese Asahi Shimbun newspaper. According to the news article, China wants to field two aircraft carriers around the same size as the British CVF by 2015.
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 articles are worth reading in full. Phillip Ewings article in the Navy Times lists several other newsworthy notes that have taken place over the last year, such as the training of carrier pilots at Dalian Naval Academy and the purchase of Su-33 Flanker-D fighters. There does appear to be a trend here.
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.
The key to the discussions remains the Changxing Shipbuilding Base, see photo's here. Once that facility was completed last year, it looks to me like a future aircraft carrier program became a sure thing. It would be very interesting if China builds two 50,000- to 60,000-ton carriers by 2015, particularly considering the British will not even complete their first carrier by then.
When looking at the development of aircraft carriers by China, I don't see this as a development towards countering the US Navy, unlike any PLA Navy moves. This decision appears to be directed towards countering the recent moves by India, and an intent to move the PLA Navy into the Indian Ocean in the future.