China has begun working on an aircraft carrier, and American defense officials predict that the Asian country will probably develop at least two of the mammoth warships.
According to satellite photos, it appears that the Chinese are working on a Kuznetsov-class carrier named the Varyag, a Soviet-era craft, reports The Washington Times. Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said that the older craft will be used for “scientific and research” purposes.
However, Pentagon officials are wary of China’s intention as the country believes aircraft carriers are a symbol of power in the world.
“We expect China to build at least one indigenous carrier, probably two or more, but they have not revealed how many they intend to build, what the construction schedule will [be] or what their missions will be,” a defense official familiar with the situation told the Times.
The United States has by far the most aircraft carriers in service worldwide with 11. Italy and Spain are the only other countries with more than one, possessing two each, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.
The Times reports that the development of the aircraft carriers is adding to worries that China will use them to take control of certain areas of international waters such as the South China Sea, East China Sea and Yellow Sea.