Asian Nations Ramp Up Aircraft Carrier Development to Counter China's Growing Naval Power

Asian Nations Ramp Up Aircraft Carrier Development to Counter China's Growing Naval Power


In response to China's expanding naval capabilities and assertive maritime posture, several Asian countries are accelerating their aircraft carrier programs. This strategic move aims to counterbalance China's growing influence in the region and safeguard national interests.

India: Announces Plans for Third Carrier​

a key player in the Indo-Pacific, is leading the charge with its ambitious carrier development plans. Having recently commissioned its second aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, and with the INS Vikramaditya already in service, India is set to further strengthen its naval power.

The country has announced its intention to build a third, more advanced carrier equipped with cutting-edge technologies like Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and potentially nuclear propulsion. This move is seen as a direct response to China's growing fleet of aircraft carriers, including the recently launched Fujian, which boasts advanced capabilities.

Japan: Converting Destroyers into Carriers​

Japan, traditionally known for its pacifist defense policy, is undergoing a significant shift by converting its Izumo-class helicopter destroyers into light aircraft carriers.

This move, facilitated by a revision of defence policies, will allow Japan to operate F-35B fighter jets from its carriers, enhancing its ability to project power and defend its territorial waters.

The decision to acquire carrier capabilities reflects Japan's growing concern about China's expanding naval presence in the East China Sea and beyond.

South Korea: CVX Program​

South Korea is also investing in aircraft carriers with its CVX program, aiming to build a light carrier capable of operating F-35B jets.

The CVX is expected to be operational by the early 2030s and will significantly enhance South Korea's naval capabilities, allowing it to respond more effectively to regional security challenges, particularly from North Korea and China.

Thailand and Indonesia: Exploring Carrier Options​

Thailand, with its existing carrier HTMS Chakri Naruebet, is exploring ways to upgrade and modernize its naval fleet. While the carrier is primarily used for disaster relief and training, it represents Thailand's commitment to maintaining a credible naval presence in the region.

Indonesia, a strategically important archipelago nation, is also considering acquiring aircraft carriers as part of its military modernization efforts. Although specific plans have not been finalized, Indonesia's vast coastline and growing regional influence make aircraft carriers a logical addition to its naval arsenal.

The collective effort of these Asian nations to develop and deploy aircraft carriers underscores the growing importance of naval power in the region's security calculus. It also highlights the strategic imperative for countries to maintain credible deterrence against potential threats, particularly from a rising China.

While the development of aircraft carriers is a costly and complex endeavor, these countries are willing to invest in this capability to safeguard their national interests and maintain a favorable balance of power in the region.

The race for naval supremacy in Asia is far from over, and the coming years will likely see further advancements in aircraft carrier technology and deployment as countries strive to secure their maritime domains.
 
India, China, and Japan will remain arguably the only carrier-operating nations in Asia for a very long time. The reasoning behind this is simple, and I have explained for each of the three nations below:

South Korea:​

South Korea is putting its defence strategy in a way that counters North Korea, and to a lesser extent, China. Neither of those requires any form of major force projection or sea control over vast swathes of ocean. That means a carrier would be of limited utility for them. In fact, a larger surface and sub-surface fleet would serve them far better.

Thailand:​

Thailand can't afford a frigate on their shoestring 5.5 billion USD defence budget. In such a scenario, a carrier is an order of magnitude or two beyond their means. They do have the Chakri Naruebet, but that ship is widely known to be a white elephant and the most expensive royal yacht in the world. They purchased the ship as a platform for disaster relief, but as other South-East Asian nations have shown, LPDs and LSTs are far better in that role, and considerably cheaper.

Thailand will operate the Chakri Naruebet for as long as that ship exists, and then simply transition to either LPDs, or in an extreme case, LHDs. In any case, they can't get VTOL aircraft such as the F-35B due to their association with China, and they can't afford a carrier large enough to operate standard aircraft. They'll get a helicopter carrier LHD at best.

Indonesia:​

Indonesia can dream all they want, but it isn't going to transition to reality anytime soon. Indonesia spends a remarkably low percentage of its GDP on defence (around 0.75%, if memory serves), which has already put their naval modernisation about 20 years behind schedule. In fact, arouns 70% of their surface fleet consists of ships that should have been retired by the late 2000s and early 2010s, and replacements for many of them are still nowhere to be seen.

For instance, Indonesia also has plans to have 36 frigates and 18 corvettes by 2045, which, unless you are China, is absurd. If all that wasn't enough, their defence procurement is an utter mess. Thanks to their wish to have a diversified equipment base, they just pick variety over depth. Look at their frigate fleet: They have six frigates in service or on order, coming from three different classes from three different nations with few common systems. They have plans to get 6 more frigates, but even that is planned to be of 2 or 3 more classes from different nations. They don't pursue ToT or local development, and they instead go with multiple vendors for sake of diversity, which increases costs and brings maintenance headaches. Essentially, they are what the IAF did at one point, but worse.

Coming back to the carrier-operating nations, we will see China fielding possibly upto 6 carriers by 2040, with India following behind at 3, with Japan following with 2 carriers.

That is where things get interesting. China would, at this point, be working on replacements for Liaoning and Shandong. India would be working on IAC-III, with a potential sister ship IAC-IV in the plans. Depending on how Japan decides to go about with replacing the Hyūga-class, they could go for one 45,000-60,000 ton carrier, or simply continue with 2-3 LHDs or helicopter carriers. The replacements for the Izumo-class will almost certainly be either two 45,000-ish ton carriers, or a larger 65,000-80,000 ton carrier, possibly with nuclear propulsion.
 
How so. Submarines are very potent weapons. That swedish SSK showed their potential
That Swedish SSK was operating in a given scenario, only close to the shore. The training was to stimulate that particular scenario. The SSK was parked in a place and AC was asked to come towards it. It managed the first lock, which itself wouldn’t have destroyed the carrier anyways. It’s defensive by nature as well.

ACs on the other hand are aggressive weapons and have shown their worth in multiple other scenarios.
 
They are no match for AC.
Subs and aircraft carriers are intended for different missions and different operating environments, boss. We need increased numbers of both. Choosing one over the other would leave us at an disadvantage.
 
China would, at this point, be working on replacements for Liaoning and Shandong.
LIAONING in all probability will be regulated for training purpose and not for combat role. So officially PLAAN may 6 AC , but only 5 will be for combat operations.
 
India need to have 14 carrier battle group by 2050 to product its interest and the friendly nations interest in pacific, North and south Atlantic and europe and to protect its back yard of IOR.
 
How about heavily armed hydrofoils? They are swift, easy to build and easier to maintain. A fleet of hydrofoils could outnumber and outgun conventional warships.
 
LIAONING in all probability will be regulated for training purpose and not for combat role. So officially PLAAN may 6 AC , but only 5 will be for combat operations.
By 2040, Liaoning will have served 28 years in Chinese service, and there are reports her days as a rusty hulk still haunt the ship. Hence, the Chinese would be looking to replace her by 2042-45, which means a replacement for her would be in the works by 2040.
 
India need to have 14 carrier battle group by 2050 to product its interest and the friendly nations interest in pacific, North and south Atlantic and europe and to protect its back yard of IOR.
I suppose you also have the idea on how exactly we would magic up the money and infrastructure for all that? I also suppose you have a better foreign policy than what we have today in mind?

Why on Earth should we concern ourselves with nations in the North or South Atlantic, or Europe? South-East Asia and IOR are still valid. There are things such as NATO, unless you have forgotten.
 
We need mine clearing vessels first ,we lag substantially there
They are already working on that, and France, being the only viable contender, has already offered the City-class MCMV. We should see some movement on it in the next few months.

As for the interim, we really should be looking into buying a few (say, 4-6) second-hand MCMVs and refitting them for 10-15 years of service. Our either MCM capability today comes to helicopters, MCM clips from Thales used on our ships, and the occasional enterprising crew member with a good aim and a powerful rifle.
 
How about heavily armed hydrofoils? They are swift, easy to build and easier to maintain. A fleet of hydrofoils could outnumber and outgun conventional warships.
Said heavily-armed hydrofoils, especially if unmanned, should be looked into. However, they are neither a response to, nor a substitute for, carriers.
 
I am not defence expert but I would prefer India going for
  1. 1000s of submersible drone's that can carry missiles, that can surround an AC from all sides and lunch missile attacks.
  2. Millitarise it's satellites so as to attack adversaries from the sky.
  3. Have enough anti satellite weapons to destroy enemy communication systems and also it's space station's.
  4. Focus on having high powered laser weapons as present system can Target upto 3kms only. One accomplished produce enough to defend multiple cities from drones and missile attacks.
  5. Aircraft carrier's are costly. It is also a genuine target from enemy as in one shot the enemy can Target both the AC n all the aircrafts, helicopters and millitary personals. Having more smaller Nuclear subs are better options.
  6. Install missile defence systems in every state so as to defend and warn it's citizens in advance of incoming missiles.
  7. Make millitary training compulsory for the new generation like how to handle different types of guns, bombs and grenades, how to handle landmines, how to do first aid during emergency, how to use different types of communication systems etc. We the old ones have missed it and luckily no wars happened.
  8. During war civilians will perish in no time as we don't have enough underground bunkers. Every state should have them. Most People in Ukraine are safe because they have underground facilities like bunkers, metros etc to be safe from missile attacks.
  9. Circulate guidelines on how to be safe from nuclear attacks and also make nuclear safety kits available for masses.
  10. China can never be trusted for they know they can't win a conventional war and may go for nuclear. Therefore keep testing nuclear weapons, keep producing them along with delivery systems like MIRV and hypersonic. Having robust missile systems and Drones are more important than fighter aircrafts. The enemies need to think twice b4 attacking.
I hope i have put some genuine inputs.
 

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