Home / Robert Farley / How Many Flattops for China?

How Many Flattops for China?


I have a new weekly gig at The Diplomat.  First offering:

Reports on Monday indicated that the PLAN has finally settled on a name for its aircraft carrier, heretofore known as the ex-Varyag.  While speculation included names such as “Beijing,” “Mao Zedong,” and “Shi Lang,” the PLAN instead decided to adopt a relatively conventional naming strategy, dubbing the refurbished Soviet-era carrier “Liaoning” in honor of the province that has hosted the warship’s refit.

Most analysts agree that China will pursue the construction of additional aircraft carriers, but at this point the opacity of Chinese defense planning has not revealed how many ships the PLAN intends to operate.  In a recent article for Globe Magazine, a Chinese security scholar and major general argued that China needs up to five carriers to manage its maritime security…



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  • How much of this acquisition is simply prestige for the navy and by extension the PRC as a whole and how much is due to actual plans to project force in the Pacific?

  • thusbloggedanderson

    The more money China spends on giant targets for cruise missiles, the better!

    • timb

      I have to agree with this. The infrastructure for a carrier task force is as important as the carrier.

      I mean, if you want to project force in the South China sea, I would be more scared of 25 late era attack submarines.

      Then again, much I trust Farley’s judgement on the greatness of the Cincinnati Reds (take that Scott L….suspect back of a pitching rotation? My ass), I will also defer to his expertise here

  • bob mcmanus

    How many aircraft carriers does the United States need?

    “Battleship Bob” Farley knows that if the Chinese believe their interests don’t exactly coincide with US interests, why, the Chinese need to very quickly correct that misunderstanding. The ability to defend themselves would only confuse the Middle Kingdom.

    • Q. What’s 4 + 4?

      A. The United States is bad!

      • Robert Farley

        Interestingly, the article didn’t condemn Chinese carrier construction, suggest that they needed fewer carriers, suggest that China was a bad influence, or really talk about current US relations with China very much at all.

        • ajay

          But you have to admit that Battleship Bob Farley is a great epithet. Your co-bloggers Obesity Paul Campos and Office Sex Scott Kaufman will be green with envy.

          • Hogan

            Not to mention B-1 Bob Dornan. (Who may have been bob mcmanus’s inspiration, if that’s the word I’m looking for.)

            • ajay

              I was thinking of the two Charlie Wilsons, Engine Charlie Wilson (head of GM and Eisenhower’s defense secretary) and Electric Charlie Wilson (head of GE around the same time and Truman’s civil rights chief). But, yes, B-1 Bob a closer comparison.

  • wengler

    I guess it depends how often China intends to park them off of SW Asia or Africa fighting over mineral interests.

  • melior

    Is it just me, cause it seems like only yesterday you could hardly say CVN without some young upstart of a warblogger slinging around words like “obsolete” and “asymmetric”… What’s old is new I guess!

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