FROM THE SEA: PLA Doctrine and the Employment of Sea-Based Airpower
Daniel J. Kostecka
Aircraft carriers symbolize a country’s overall strength. They are also the core of the navy’s combined-arms sea operations. Building carriers has all along been a matter of concern for the Chinese people. To modernize our national defense and build a perfect weaponry and equipment system, we have to consider the development of carriers.Despite an impressive naval modernization over the past two decades, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) currently possesses little in the way of force-projection capabilities.1 The development of force projection through the acquisition of such platforms as aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships is essential if PLAN forces, as they modernize and mature, are to engage in the full spectrum of traditional and nontraditional operations needed to protect Chinese interests, regionally and abroad. At this point, the most visible manifestations of the PLAN’s desire to possess this type of force-projection capability
ADMIRAL LIU HUAQING, MEMOIRS OF LIU HUAQING (AUGUST 2004)
are its Type 071 amphibious transport dock (LPD), commissioned in November 2007; a second Type 071 hull now under construction; and, most significant, the ongoing refurbishment of an incomplete, Soviet-built, Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier at Dalian. These ships represent core elements of the PLAN’s future force projection requirements. Along with follow-on platforms, they will provide the capability to employ sea-based airpower and conduct expeditionary operations beyond the range of older and less capable amphibious vessels, as well as that of land-based air cover.