How do you react to China selling its aircraft carrier to Pakistan?
An Aircraft carrier is not a joke. A single aircraft carrier fleet can destroy an entire navy of hostile country. In 1971, the Indian aircraft carrier ‘INS Vikrant’ single handedly destroyed the entire East Pakistani Navy which led to liberation of ‘ Bangladesh’. It takes years of design, research & development and huge amount of money to build an aircraft carrier. Also it is very costly and difficult to maintain an aircraft carrier. An Aircraft carrier never sails alone but is protected by submarines, cruiser, destroyers, escort ships, etc.
Now you have understood how complex, expensive, time consuming, hard to maintain, aircraft carriers are. That’s why only a few elite countries like the UK, France, Spain, Italy, the USA, India, China and a few more operate aircraft carriers. These countries have vast coastlines and global territories. They have big economies. Currently Italy and Spain operates 2 aircraft carriers, UK, France, India, China operate 1 each aircraft carrier and USA operates 19 aircraft carriers out of which 11 are supercarriers.
Now coming to the topic. China’s first ever homemade carriers ‘Lioning’ is actually a refitted Soviet ship. It took 20 years and 2bn US dollers to refitt an old soviet ship. She is 55000 tonnage, conventional powered, able to carry 40 aircrafts aircraft carrier. Even then, it is not an operational aircraft carrier but used as training aircraft carrier. Unlike China, USA has 19 aircraft carriers which all are operational. Also China invested tonnes of money to copy Russian naval fighter plane used in Lioning aircraft carrier. China is building 3 aircraft carriers. These aircraft carriers are no match for Us aircraft carriers. One single US aircraft carrier is twice the size of the Chinese aircraft carrier and can carry 80 aircrafts.
DO YOU THINK CHINA WILL SELL AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER TO PAKISTAN?
Lets take India’s INS Vikramaditya for rough estimate because its a very basic aircraft carrier. It costs india USD$2.35 Billion in 2004 (its price in 2017 would rise considering inflation) and another USD$1.2 Billion for 29 MIG 29ks in 2010. ( Note I’m not adding ASW and AEW&S Helicopters here which will also effect the total cost) And apart from all of this there’s additional $400million operational cost per year. Now lets have a look at Pakistan defense budget which is $8.7 Billion in year 2017–18 out of which only $1.2 Billion is for its naval force which makes it technically impossible for Pakistan to get an aircraft carrier at least in near future.
Pakistan doesnt have capacity to build, operate or purchase an aircraft carrier. Pakistans military budget is 8bn out of which only 17% is allocated for navy (which is less than 2bn doller), out of which most is spent on salaries of naval officers. Also Pakistan doesn’t have a single destroyer to form the carrier’s battle fleet. In addition, you need to purchase naval versions of aircrafts for aircraft carriers. It is also very costly to maintain an aircraft carrier which Pakistan can not afford. Pakistan can’t even afford fuel of twin engine jet fight let alone aircraft carrier. Pakistan dont need an aircraft carrier as it has just 1096 km of coastline and no sealine islands to protect. India’s single state Gujrats coast is as big as whole Pakistan plus India has total 7000 km of coastline and islands to protect.
India’s one ship is costlier than Pakistan’s entire navy and India’s navy is bigger than Pakistan’s entire military.
That doesn’t mean China can not gift Pakistan an aircraft carrier. Yes, China can. But India is prepared for this. India has made the western fleet to confront Pakistan, after 2022 India is able to form eastern fleet to counter China with 1 additional fleet under reserve. Even if Pakistan acquires an aircraft carrier, it can’t defend the lone aircraft carrier. It will be easy prey for India’s Scorpene submarines.
Pakistan shouldn’t even dream of acquiring an aircraft carrier.