SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China will build a second, larger aircraft carrier capable of carrying more fighter jets, the official Xinhua news service reported late Tuesday, quoting a senior officer with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.
The report comes after Chinese officials denied foreign media reports in September 2012 that China was building a second carrier in Shanghai.
“China will have more than one aircraft carrier ... The next aircraft carrier we need will be larger and carry more fighters,” Xinhua quoted Song Xue, deputy chief of staff of the PLA Navy, as saying at a ceremony with foreign military attaches.
Song said foreign media reports saying the carrier was being built in Shanghai were still inaccurate but did not elaborate, according to the report.
China currently has one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was refitted from a Russian-made model. Considered by military experts to be decades behind U.S. carrier technology, it was originally intended to serve as a floating casino, but was turned to military use in the runup to a once-in-a-decade power transition in late 2012.
China is also building up other forms of military hardware, including a stealth fighter jet believed to be capable of landing on a carrier, drone aircraft and nuclear submarines.
China is alone among the original nuclear weapons states to be expanding its nuclear forces, according to a report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
Song also said the PLA Navy is building a naval aviation force for the Liaoning, and there will be at least two aviation regiments on one carrier, including fighters, reconnaissance aircraft, anti-submarine aircraft, electronic countermeasure (ECM) planes and rotary-wing aircraft, the report said.
Chinese officials have said the Liaoning will be used primarily for training purposes.
Reporting by Pete Sweeney; Editing by Richard Pullin