China’s plans to dominate the South China Sea and Indian Ocean with aircraft carrier groups are still on track, with the Fujian aircraft carrier set to begin sea trials this year.
Fujian, China’s third and most advanced aircraft carrier, is the largest of its aircraft carriers and can be classified as a Super Aircraft carrier equipped with a Shenyang J-15B variant with CATOBAR launch capability.
The Chinese military attempted to recruit veteran Western pilots for a programme aimed at improving the country’s ability to fly planes from aircraft carriers, among other capabilities that could be useful in the event of a conflict with the United States, Taiwan, or India.
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Former military pilots are teaching Chinese pilots not only air-to-air tactics, but also anti-ship tactics to take out frontline warships and other ships that might be sent to intervene in the event of a war with Taiwan.
China’s carrier-based fighter jets are also developing tactics to shoot down ship-launched anti-ship missiles that may be lobbed at its Carrier battle group, for which it is training to use its PL-15 Very Long air-to-air missile to take them down while in the air.
Chinese are focusing on developing tactics to take out subsonic sea skimming antiship cruise missiles as well as supersonic cruise missiles such as BrahMos, for which it is using simulation and improving its own PL-15 BVRAAMs.
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The BrahMos cruise missile, which is extremely difficult to take out by modern air defence systems and is especially difficult when in its terminal stage while carrying out S maneuvers to defeat onboard air defence systems of warships, has been a source of particular concern for Chinese and Pakistani warships.
Chinese researchers are working on tactics that would allow a supersonic antiship missile like the BrahMos to be intercepted while it is still in cruise mode, before it enters its terminal stage, using a long-range air-to-air missile like the PL-15.
China intends to station at least one aircraft carrier battle group in the Indian Ocean region to protect its oil supply lines, for which it is constructing naval bases in Djibouti and Gwadar.