Chinese navy official Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo confirmed that China plans to put aircraft carrier battle groups to sea, says a report in SCMP.
The country will deploy them not only in the disputed East and South China seas, but also to protect the country’s overseas interests.
Yin Zhuo said that the service intends to create aircraft carrier battle groups to “defend China's sovereignty on the islands and reefs, maritime rights and overseas interests,” an apparent reference to the nation's South China Sea claims.
The defence ministry confirmed this year that China was building its second aircraft carrier, its first wholly home-made one.
China presently has one aircraft carrier, the Soviet-built, Chinese-refitted Liaoning, but it reportedly functions as a training ship and does not often venture far from the mainland.
The PLAN has one additional carrier under construction at a yard in Dalian, of a design similar to the Soviet-era vessel – including a ski-jump for takeoff rather than a catapult – but with more hangar space for a larger air wing.
It's unknown how many carriers China will ultimately build. The general rule of thumb for carriers is that you need at least three to have one ready at any give time (one carrier in maintenance or overhaul, one ready for action, and one carrier transitioning between the two states).
In emergencies that carrier could be readied for action, but the fact is that owning three carriers seldom means three carriers ready for war.
Meanwhile, the US Navy has sent an aircraft carrier battle group against China. The carrier strike group USS John C. Stennis, with its 7,000 sailors, arrived in the strategic waterway on Tuesday.