(From the National Interest)
By Peter Navarro
In Defense Report, Stewart Webb writes,
“Anonymous sources within the U.S. Navy’s senior command have revealed that the U.S. is not concerned over any immediate threat from the introduction of China’s latest aircraft carrier in the Pacific, the Liaoning.”
China’s only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is a great source of national pride. It is also a grim symbol of the arrogance of an American defense establishment that largely dismisses Beijing’s under-sized training carrier as an antiquated bucket of rusty Soviet bolts.
The prevailing Pentagon opinion is not wrong, at least when viewed through the keyhole of tactics and short-term thinking. The Liaoning is indeed a refurbished Soviet carrier originally launched in 1988 that the Chinese picked up for a rusting song from Ukraine in 1998.
The Liaoning is also a bit undersized. Its deck is just shy of 100 feet shorter than an American supercarrier like the Nimitz.
On top of that, the Liaoning has little in the way of advanced electronics or weaponry, so that taken as a whole it is clear that the Liaoning poses no direct competition to any American aircraft carrier strike groups patrolling in the East or South China Seas. Nor does the Liaoning pose a viable threat to any American forward bases in the region—tactical or otherwise.
These limitations of the Liaoning notwithstanding, there is also this stark reality: In an era of a rapidly shrinking American fleet, the Liaoning and its picket ships and air wing pose a growing threat to many of China’s neighbors in the South China Sea, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam. Read more