A computer-generated conceptual rendering of the second Chinese carrier to be built in Shanghai. Photo: Weibo
A computer-generated conceptual rendering of the second Chinese carrier to be built in Shanghai. Photo: Weibo

While China is readying its first home-built aircraft carrier – now doing sea trials in the Bohai Sea – for delivery to the navy by the end of the year, preparations are also underway to build a second carrier in Shanghai.

Hong Kong-based Kanwa Defense Review reported that construction could start as early as this summer, as design and construction drawings of the second homemade carrier had been finalized and about 1,000 workers onsite had signed confidentiality contracts.

Recent satellite images of the Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard on Changxing Island reveal major works at No. 3 berth there. The berth has been extended to about 620 meters with the addition of a scaffolding shelter structure some 390 meters in length, with signs of a possible further expansion in size.

Analysts say the humongous shelter could be an indication that the future carrier will be bigger than its two predecessors, the Liaoning and its homemade sister ship, both of which are of the Soviet-era Kuznetsov-class.

The Jiangnan Shipyard on Shanghai's Changxing Island. Photo: Google Maps
The Jiangnan Shipyard on Shanghai’s Changxing Island. Photo: Google Maps
3rd carrier
No. 3 berth of the Jiangnan Shipyard has undergone a major overhaul. Photo: Google Maps

Despite having similar steam turbo engines, the new carrier will do away with the curled-up bow as aircraft will be catapulted from launch pads, although it remains to be seen if the novel electromagnetic system which the Chinese military has been testing for years will be put into use on the carrier.

There are rumors that while most launch pads will be of the conventional steam powered type, one or more pairs of linear induction motors for the experimental use of an electromagnetic launch system may also be mounted on the carrier.

The magazine also noted that the third carrier was designed to carry a total of 48 fighter jets, almost twice the capacity of the Liaoning, and another breakthrough could be that the future carrier may have its own long-range early warning aircraft.

More shipboard aircraft necessitate a bigger hangar, meaning a full load displacement of 85,000 tons, putting it on a par with the Kitty Hawk, the last oil-fired carrier in the US Navy. The Kitty Hawk was decommissioned in May 2009.

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