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China's Type 003 aircraft carrier to increase area-denial capabilities around Taiwan

People's Liberation Army has extended ability to carry out soft and hard electronic attacks west of Taiwan

Illustration of Type 003 aircraft carrier. (Weibo image)

Illustration of Type 003 aircraft carrier. (Weibo image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A report released by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Tuesday (Aug. 31) states that China's area-denial capabilities will increase significantly when it completes its domestically developed Type 003 aircraft carrier.

On Tuesday, the MND submitted to the Legislative Yuan its annual report on the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) capabilities in which it stated that the Chinese military is continuing to install types of naval and air assets capable of launching electronic attacks and severing communications. The ministry estimates that when the Type 003 aircraft carrier enters service in 2025, China's anti-access and area-denial capabilities will improve greatly.

According to the report, China is boosting its "soft kill" and "hard kill" capabilities to damage telecommunications. The former refers to disrupting communications, while the latter is the use of anti-radiation missiles and other weapons to attack and paralyze signal transceiver equipment.

The report estimated that China's national defense budget this year was more than 1.35 trillion Chinese yuan (US$208 billion), ranking it second only to the U.S. If funds for defense-related scientific research, profits from arms exports, and the defense industry's revenues from foreign sales are taken into account, the budget swells by an additional US$100 billion.

China's Type 003 aircraft carrier to increase area-denial capabilities around Taiwan
Starboard side and deck of Type 003 aircraft carrier. (Weibo image)

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has continued to strengthen its military readiness, with "unification with Taiwan" as a core interest. China has also increased both its political and military intimidation against Taiwan through hard-line speeches by leaders and cognitive warfare.

The assessment pointed out that Beijing's preparations to use force against Taiwan have been stepped up sharply. The PLA has now extended its ability to carry out soft kill and hard kill electronic attacks to the west of Taiwan, per the report.

The PLA is now believed to have enhanced its ability to use cyberattacks to paralyze Taiwan's anti-aircraft and anti-ship defense systems as well as stifle its ability to launch electronic countermeasures.

China's Type 003 aircraft carrier to increase area-denial capabilities around Taiwan
View of bow of Type 003 aircraft carrier. (Weibo image)

The report states that the aircraft carriers already being operated by the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the Liaoning and the Shandong, have increased China's ability to project combat power and normalized cross-island chain sea-training missions.

According to the MND, the PLA continues to produce craft that could conduct landing operations on Taiwan, multiply China's air and naval forces, and strengthen its joint combat capabilities. However, the report determined that if the PLA launches a large-scale landing operation at this stage, it will suffer from problems such as insufficient transportation vehicles and logistical support.

The report does not rule out the possibility that the PLA could commandeer civilian ships to support a mass landing operation, however. It mentions that the PLA's use of gray-zone tactics, such as sending military aircraft to harass Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) and People's Armed Forces Maritime Militia to conduct operations in Taiwan's territorial waters, is taxing Taiwan's combat capabilities.