China's aircraft carrier involves 8,000 technological advances

By Yang Sheng in Dalian and Li Xuanmin in Beijing Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/28 0:08:41

Carrier involves 8,000 technological advances

China's second aircraft carrier is transferred from dry dock into the water at a launch ceremony in Dalian shipyard of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp. in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province, April 26, 2017. The new carrier, the first domestically-built one, came after the Liaoning, a refitted former Soviet Union-made carrier that was put into commission in the Navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in 2012. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

China's ambition to build aircraft carriers will boost the country's economic development and industrial upgrade, and will benefit society militarily and technologically, experts said.

China's first domestically built carrier, the Type 001A, was launched on Wednesday, while another with more advanced technology, the Type 002, is under construction.

"The huge project of building an aircraft carrier provides a valuable opportunity to many Chinese companies, and industries will be able to push industrial advances," Song Zhongping, a military expert who used to serve in the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times. Song believes that the aircraft carrier is a typical civil-military integration project that President Xi Jinping has promoted, and its technologies can be transferred to civilian use.

"The homegrown aircraft carrier involves 8,000 technological breakthroughs and some industrial standards in advanced manufacturing sectors, such as electronic equipment, power plants and steel products that have been developed in the wake of the project," said Liu Xuezhi, a senior analyst at the Bank of Communications. "The money spent on the aircraft carrier is an investment rather than a mere expenditure," Song said.

For instance, the steel with which the aircraft carrier is built is of a durable type, and performs better than other steel. Production capacity of this steel will be boosted by the construction of carriers, which in turn reduces the price, and eventually this will enable it to be used for civilian ships and improve their resistance to corrosion, Song said.

Han Pu, executive director of the Civilian-Military Integration Equipment Research Institute, said that an aircraft carrier such as the Type 001A is a boon for both State-owned and private players, especially at a time when the world economy is grappling with a downturn.

"There is money to be made for military products, averaging at above 30 percent of the investment," Han said, noting that even for private sector suppliers of military support equipment, the profit margins are still around 20 percent.

If China builds more aircraft carriers in the next few years, the investment would amount to 130 billion yuan ($18.8 billion) and fuel the country's economic growth, Han said.

"The direct contribution to GDP, in the form of creating jobs in high-tech sectors and driving the development of industries such as computers and telecommunications, is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of yuan," Han said.

Han added that China's military industry still has great potential and will feed into the domestic economy in the long-term.

Liu agreed. He hailed the launch of the carrier as a milestone in the government's "Made in China 2025" agenda, noting that "technology-intensive projects like that have greatly boosted the country's research and development ability and the upgrade of the manufacturing industry."

Not a burden

However, some US experts, including Andrew Marshall, former director of the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment, have said aircraft carriers will make China bear a "massive budgetary burden," he told the Washington Free Beacon.

The resources poured into aircraft carriers are a massive budgetary burden, even in the US, Marshall said.

An anonymous retired US naval specialist added that "the cost of supporting naval vessels would be huge," and "It is an ever-expanding drain on resources that will not become clear to the Chinese until it is too late for them to reverse it," the report said.

"This kind of thinking is totally wrong and those US experts don't understand China really well or they are just unhappy with our achievements," Song said.

The US has 10 aircraft carriers, and it is still constructing the next-generation Ford-class. Perhaps this is too many for the US, but China will not build so many, Song said.

Newspaper headline: Aircraft carrier 001A to upgrade industries and boost economy

Posted in: MILITARY

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