China is planning to build two conventionally powered aircraft carriers in addition to its first warship as part of an aggressive effort to modernise its naval fleet, Taiwan’s National Security Bureau head Tsai Teh-sheng said.
Construction on the medium-sized aircraft carrier is set to begin in 2013 while the other frigate is scheduled to be built in 2015, with delivery dates of 2020 and 2022 respectively, Tsai added.
The Chinese naval fleet expansion is aimed at growing regional tensions over maritime disputes and a US campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power.
China has conducted six sea trials of its first carrier since mid-2011 and is likely to be operational with the Navy before the end of 2012.
The first vessel, a refitted former Soviet craft, will be used for training and evaluation purposes in the early stage of its commissioning but can be transferred for battles as required in the future.
"Once the two warships join the Chinese navy, their threat to Taiwan will be way larger than that of the ‘Varyag’," Tsai said, referring to the reconditioned 1980s Soviet-era carrier.
Taiwan is considering equipping its warships with new carrier killer anti-ship missiles in response to China’s naval fleet expansion and is also constructing a fleet of 12 corvettes with stealth technologies.
The supersonic Hsiung Ffeng (Brave Wind) III ramjet-powered anti-ship missile is equipped with a single warhead, which can be launched from land and surface platforms, can cruise at a maximum speed of Mach 2 and has a range of up to 130km.