Thursday, February 2, 2023
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After NDTV Report, US Confirms China’s Djibouti Plan Which May Target India

The Chinese Djibouti base has a pier that can base aircraft carriers, submarines and warships. High resolution here

New Delhi:

China could station aircraft carriers, large warships and submarines in its first overseas military base in Djibouti, a move that would have profound implications for the security of India’s navy.

Details of the basic article in the US Department of Defense annual report on China, which is submitted to the US Congress. The report, released Sunday, comes less than four months after NDTV released high-resolution satellite images of the base, including a large Chinese navy landing craft in dock. This is the backbone of China’s amphibious assault forces.

“In late March 2022, a FUCHI II-class (Type 903A) supply ship Luomahu docked at the 450-meter pier for supplies; the first such reported PLA Navy port call to the Djibouti support base, indicating that the pier is now operational,” says the 2022 China Military Power Report from the US Department of Defense.

“The pier is likely to accommodate the PLA Navy’s aircraft carriers, other large fighters and submarines,” he added.

This is not the first time the United States has raised the possibility of China preparing to deploy aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean. In 2017, Admiral Harry Harris Jr., who commanded the US Pacific Command, told NDTV, “Nothing is stopping them from sailing the Indian Ocean today.”

Since then, China has been developing its aircraft carriers and now has three operational ships, each of increasing capacity. The Indian Navy currently operates two aircraft carriers, the Russian-made INS Vikramaditya and the INS Vikrant, which is still several months away from being fully operational.

The US report says, “PLA Navy Marines are stationed at the [Djibouti] base with wheeled armored vehicles and artillery, but are currently largely dependent on nearby commercial ports due to lack of experience using the base’s recently operational pier.”

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops deployed to the Djibouti base have “impeded US flights by lasering pilots and flying drones, and the PRC (People’s Republic of China) has attempted to restrict Djiboutian sovereign airspace over the base “, it notes.

In other words, the U.S. military believes Chinese troops deployed to the region used lasers on the ground to temporarily blind or obstruct the view of U.S. fliers in the region. These are also aimed at US drones.

The base in Djibouti appears to be just the beginning of a process by which Beijing identifies and eventually acquires land in countries where it can expand its military presence.

“Beyond the base in Djibouti, the PRC is likely already considering and planning additional military logistics facilities to support the deployment of naval, air and ground forces,” the US report said. This includes securing an Indo-Pacific presence beyond the artificial islands it has illegally built in the South China Sea.

“As of early 2021, dredgers were sighted at the Ream naval base in Cambodia, where the PRC is funding construction work and deeper port facilities that would be needed to dock larger military vessels,” the US report said.

China established a permanent naval patrol off the Horn of Africa 14 years ago. While there was initial skepticism about their ability to deploy far from their home coast, China’s navy was able to demonstrate its ability to keep ships stationed for six to nine months. Now that the base in Djibouti is fully operational, China will be able to permanently position warships in the region.

“The Persian Gulf is 8,400 km and the Horn of Africa is 8,800 km from the nearest Chinese naval base Hainan, both 10-15 days sailing time,” said Admiral Arun Prakash (retired), India’s former naval chief.

“So China is merely fulfilling the objectives it had set out in its 2015 and 2019 defense white papers, which are to create ‘strategic strengths’ in locations that support overseas military operations and act as a forward base for deploying forces. abroad. ,” he says.

Built at a cost of $590 million and under construction since 2016, the Chinese base in Djibouti is located on the Bab-El-Mandeb Strait, one of the most critical channels of international trade guarding access to the Suez Canal.

For the Indian Navy, the operationalization of this base raises one important question. “For India, it is a harbinger of a Chinese squadron in the Indian Ocean ahead,” said Admiral Prakash. “Will it be led by an aircraft carrier?”

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