Reports leaked from US Naval Intelligence reveal that the Chinese military is designing a strategic nuclear submarine aircraft carrier. [Computer graphic of vessel.]
Whether the project is serious or just propaganda cannot be determined.
Watchful eyes in the skies have kept track of the comings and goings of submarines at the secretive Chinese submarine base located off Hainan. Satellite imagery has also captured evidence of experimental retrofitting of military platforms and armament being tested on the Chinese navy's submersibles. [Aerial photos]
Whether China is serious about constructing and deploying a revolutionary aircraft carrier submersible, it does shed a new light on the ambitions and foresight some Chinese engineers have in regards to future military assets. It also spotlights the inner workings and direction of at least some of the military long term thinking and planning.
Obviously Beijing is planning armament and assets for the next war, not a past one.
Some Western naval experts have dismissed the Chinese project as unworkable and question where the true strategic advantage lies in such a seagoing craft.
Yet others argue such a vessel could be employed as part of a coastal assault force. Fighter aircraft could be used in a surprise attack during an attempt to acquire command and control of airspace over a territory being invaded by ground troops.
Industrious defense industry
China's industriousness has become legendary. Their factories churning out materials for warfare—both defensive and offensive—have been documented by observers to operate in a highly regimented fashion.
Each weapons factory has three shifts that work seven days a week. Reports indicate that each work team also has a high-ranking engineer that monitors the quality of the production and makes sure it maintains a high level of excellence. Workers are also rotated every handful of hours in an attempt to keep them alert and productive avoiding boredom and keeping productivity high.
Such a workforce is quite capable of producing the submersible under consideration by the People's Republic.
The Chinese envision a nuclear submarine aircraft carrier with multiple capabilities:
1. Nuclear-tipped cruise missiles designed for submerged launch;
2. Anti-ship surface missiles;
3. Water-tight and pressurized hangar able to accommodate up to forty aircraft. Some speculate the platforms might include five anti-submarine rotary craft, three AWAC drones, and the balance fighter jets.
4. Smart torpedoes.
Engineers come up with design concepts all the time. It's standard operating procedure for many industries including automotive and military.
The consensus of opinion regarding whether this project will ever actually leave the drawing board is unknown.
Hopefully the answer will not rise out of the Pacific off the US West Coast.