Chinese leaders plan on building four aircraft carriers for its navy, a Chinese official said in comments that have since been removed from a Chinese media site.
Liaoning party chief Wang Min said the Chinese navy had started work on the country’s second aircraft carrier and had plans for four, according to the South China Morning Post. Earlier this year, Chinese officials explained the country’s need for more than two aircraft carriers.
“If China had only one aircraft carrier, it would not conform to China’s status as a world power, nor to the demands imposed by the length of the coastline. Considering China’s ocean environment, two aircraft carriers are not enough to safeguard marine interests. If China has three aircraft carriers, they can maintain a sustained combat capability: maintenance, safeguarding and patrol respectively,” Chinese military expert Du Wenlong told the Chinese state media arm, the People’s Daily.
The Chinese unveiled their first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in 2011. China has since incorporate the carrier into’s overall military strategy. In 2012, the Chinese successfully complete its first landing of a fighter aircraft on the ship when a J-15 landed in November on the Liaoning.
China bought the Liaoning from Ukraine more than a decade ago. China Vessel Construction Industry has since refurbished the Russian vessel.
Work has started on the second aircraft carrier, which the Chinese are building themselves. Min confirmed that construction continues on the carrier in the Dalian shipyard with plans to have it completed by 2020.
It’s unclear when the Chinese could complete construction on the fourth carrier, but a four carrier navy would present quite a power in the global seas. As pointed out by the U.S. Naval Institute, a four carrier navy would allow the Chinese to keep one carrier on patrol at all time.