Chinese officials look to expand military logistic capabilities

Park Sae-jin Reporter() | Posted : April 26, 2013, 09:13 | Updated : April 26, 2013, 09:13
According to a new report, China is expanding its long-neglected fleet of supply ships and heavy-lift aircraft, bolstering its military prowess in support of missions to enforce claims over disputed territory and to defend Chinese interests abroad.

These transport workhorses are unlikely to arouse the same regional unease as the steady rollout of high performance fighters, long-range missiles or potent warships, but they are a crucial element of the People‘s Liberation Army’s three-decade military build-up, defense analysts say.

Over time, the air and sea support will give the world‘s second-largest navy greater geographical reach and will enhance the PLA’s capacity to assist troops on distant battlefields, potentially including Taiwan if Beijing were to launch a military assault to take control of the self-governing island.

China‘s state-owned shipyards last year launched two 23,000-tonne type 903 replenishment ships, according to reports and photographs published on Chinese military affairs websites and blogs, with further orders in the pipeline.

Defense analysts say the state-of-the-art ships are undergoing sea trials and should be commissioned into the Chinese navy later this year. China also confirmed last month that the PLA had conducted the first test flight of its Y-20 heavy lift aircraft from the Yanliang airbase near Xi’an in Shaanxi Province.

The impending delivery of these support ships and aircraft is further evidence China intends to become a more ambitious global military power in a decisive break with its traditional security priorities of expanding or defending its extensive land borders. Steep increases in military outlays over three decades have allowed China to build an advanced navy that now ranks second to the United States fleet in terms of raw numbers.

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