Viv S wrote:chola wrote:Look at the PRC's flattop program. It took a rotting hulk from Ukraine, converted it all on its own to build industrial capacity and is now ready to launch a second 65,000-ton STOBAR next month, has commenced the building of a 40,000-ton LHD and, worse of all, has already been building their CATOBAR carrier in Shanghai since 2015.
All this with a publicly stated grand vision of six or more CVs and at least four LHDs.
Precisely. I'd say we have less than a decade before the first PLAN CBG sortie west of the Malacca possibly including a port call at Gwadar or Karachi (with the next at Djibouti).
And while IN SSNs/SSKs will be deployed to counter it, they're better suited for ambushes at choke-points. The IN surface fleet will still need air cover, especially if the PLAN battlegroup is already deployed to the IOR when the balloon goes up.
With the IAC-2 still a paper project, we need a follow-on to the Vikrant ordered right away.
Obviously, a stable full of SSN/SSK's would be the best counter.
I don't fear the tactical power of a chini CBG as much as the symbolic one. Any PLAN carrier in the IOR would be in transit as the IN AND the USN's 7th Fleet will be on its tail. It won't survive 24-hours if real war were to break out.
But docking of such a CBG in Gwadar, Djibouti and elsewhere around around the IOR in peacetime will convey a political message that only a carrier can give.
The fixed-wing carrier was our status symbol. Of all the nations in Asia, we were the only one who operated this icon if seapower. Not China, not Japan (okay Thailand had one but it was used more as a royal yacht.)
Were the PLAN to send a CATOBAR carrier to the Indian Ocean while we had none then the symbolism of us being eclipsed in our own region will be there even though the reality is that this chini carrier will not survive for long in war.
That said, I don't think we'll see a PLAN CBG in the IOR in our lifetime. They have too much pressing concerns with the USN on their doorstep. But the symbolism of the PRC overtaking us in the one field where we used to dominate will be there where ever a PLAN CATOBAR is deployed. And we have none.