Highlights

  • India part of world's largest naval exercise along with 25 other nations
  • Rim of the Pacific exercise amid China's growing focus on Indo-Pacific
  • China likely to launch 3rd aircraft carrier which features 'catapult' system

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India in largest naval drill; China's 3rd aircraft carrier with 'catapult' system: Indo-Pacific heats up

The Indian Navy is set to participate in the 26-nation RIMPAC exercise, which might coincide with the launch of China's third aircraft carrier, unofficially called Type 003.

The Indian Navy is set to participate in the 26-nation RIMPAC, or Rim of the Pacific maritime drill which is slated to be held from June 29 to August 4. The venue is the Indo-Pacific, currently a battleground between China and the West. India will reportedly send a stealth frigate and a P8I anti-submarine warfare reconnaissance aircraft for the exercise.

The maritime exercises will be held weeks after China's naval drills in the western Pacific, seen as targeted at Taiwan and Japan. China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning headlined the 3-week exercise, which also included fighter aircraft, Z-18F anti-submarine choppers, and Z-18J early-warning helicopters, as per reports.

The RIMPAC exercise might also coincide with the launching of China's third aircraft carrier - a major development given Beijing's aim to establish security relations with Pacific island nations. China's third aircraft carrier is set to be its most advanced yet.

ALSO WATCH | Explained: China snubbed by Pacific nations, 'World War' warning, how India can take advantage

The warship is China's second indigenous aircraft carrier and is unofficially called Type 003. Its launch was expected on the Dragon Boat Festival which was celebrated on June 3, 2022. The Type 003 aircraft carrier has been under development since 2017 at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai.

However, the launch was delayed possibly due to technical issues, as per reports. The problems are with the next phase of the ship's construction, as per a South China Morning Post report quoting sources. The report also said that no weapons and radar systems have been installed yet.

If news reports are to be believed, then the newest Chinese aircraft carrier features technology which would include it in a club currently occupied by only 3 other ships belonging to 2 nations.

ALSO WATCH | Chinese article on India's new aircraft carrier INS Vikrant reveals Beijing's nervousness. Here's why

The Type 003 has a catapult launch system, which allows greater take-off rate and velocity. Only two US and a French warship have had the catapult system so far. More significantly, the Chinese aircraft carrier might have the world's first catapult system with integrated propulsion. The propulsion system would create power for an electromagnetically powered catapult.

The catapult system would help the warship support additional aircraft, and more rapid flight operations, thus extending the reach and effectiveness of China's carrier-based strike aircraft, as per the US defence department.

However, experts agree that China's third aircraft carrier would take many years to become fully operational. In the meantime, India would have already launched its indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

With China continuing to eye a larger and more disruptive role in the Indo-Pacific, military face-offs in the region are set to rise too.
And along with land borders, India may need to start preparing to fend off Beijing's aggression at its maritime boundaries.

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