Millennium Post

China closing in on the US

China closing in on the US
Even as the US, with the world's largest nuclear arsenal and strongest defence system, is playing the proverbial big brother to any country trying to bolster its defence, China seems to be gradually closing in. Its first domestically built aircraft carrier began sea trials on Sunday, a historic step in the country's mission to build a Navy capable of rivaling the world's leading maritime powers. The carrier's maiden sea trial follows a speech given by Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 12, in which he announced plans to build a "world-class" navy under the banner of the Chinese Communist Party. But, experts said the new aircraft carrier will dramatically boost China's military power in the Asian region. Several nations in the region are understandably concerned, but there is no stopping China from emerging as the new power to contend with. According to Peter Layton, visiting fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute, the new ship is likely to be deployed in combat missions, positioning China alongside a select number of countries with global naval capabilities, including Russia, France, the United States and the United Kingdom. All of them are, interestingly, nuclear powers. As of this year, the United States Navy fields 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, more than any other nation in the world. The US ships feature the "catapult" technology, in which a gear attached to a steam-powered piston or an electromagnetic rail gets the aircraft up to flight speed as it leaves the deck. In the United States, the USS Gerald R Ford, the US Navy's newest carrier and the most expensive warship ever built at $13 billion, has a host of problems. The Ford was commissioned into the fleet in July 2017, however, a January 2018 report from the Pentagon's Operational Test and Evaluation Office says the 100,000-ton warship is plagued with troubles in critical systems, including its catapults that launch planes, the arresting gear which catches them upon landing and its radar. Those deficiencies "make the ship more vulnerable to attack or create limitations during routine operations," the report said. China may still be some way from presenting a global challenge to the US Navy but as a regional power, its military programme is moving fast. With a military budget in 2018 of $175, the Chinese military is pushing ahead rapidly with its modernisation drive.
The US Navy and their capability will still be superior to Chinese Navy but the size of Chinese fleet will be larger and they will have closed the gap in technology and training. China has made no secret of its desire to build a modern, "blue-water" navy which could operate around the world.
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