An image of China's third aircraft carrier by military enthusiasts. Photo: Weibo

The size of China’s third aircraft carrier, which is taking shape in Shanghai, will be roughly on par with the US Navy’s decommissioned Kitty Hawk. And it may also sport a similar flat top, plus flight deck layout.

The carrier, known only as Type 002, is still in an early stage of construction at the Jiangnan Shipyard near the Yangtze River estuary in Shanghai.

Satellite images taken last month show work on the vessel has got off to a speedy start – no less than three sections of her hull are clearly visible on newly built slipways with gigantic gantry cranes looming above, all of which were nonexistent in 2017.

More prefabricated components will appear on the dry dock and floodable ship basins before being welded or bolted together as workers with the state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Corp (CSIC) make further headway.

A satellite image shows the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai is now a hive of activity. Sections of the future carrier can be seen on slipways and ship basins. Photo: Center for Strategic and International Studies

The People’s Liberation Army’s “grade-skipping” in building carriers – by skipping smaller vessels of 30,000 tons or less – is evident amid Beijing’s desire to build up its naval prowess to project power in nearby seas.

The vessel in Shanghai will sail into the same league as the conventionally-powered US supercarrier Kitty Hawk, dwarfing its two sister carriers – the Soviet-built Liaoning and its lookalike Type 001A, which may enter service later this year.

Veteran military observer Andrei Chang noted in the May issue of the Kanwa Defense Review that the Type 002 carrier could come close to the 83,000-ton Kitty Hawk – much bigger than the Liaoning, whose full displacement was 67,500 tons.

After studying a computer-generated rendering of PLA carrier groups posted by the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp on its Weibo account, Chang noted that the future carrier could be equipped with up to three catapults to launch more warplanes into combat: two on its bow for the J-15 shipborne fighter and one on its angled flight deck for early warning planes like the KJ-600. The Kitty Hawk, by comparison, had only two catapults.

A file photo shows the now decommissioned US carrier Kitty Hawk sailing in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor during a port call in 2009. Photo: Reuters
CSIC posted on its Weibo account in June 2018 what was believed to be the design of the Type 002 carrier (center) currently being built in Shanghai. Photo: Weibo
Another rendering of the Type 002 carrier by military enthusiasts. Photo: Weibo

Yet the hulking J-15 – which will make up the bulk of the PLA’s shipborne fighter fleet for the better part of the next decade – means that the Type 002 will carry less warplanes than the Kitty Hawk did, Chang said, with some 48 J-15s in two squadrons, plus a dozen helicopters and early warning planes.

The US carrier could haul more than 80 aircraft, mostly the smaller, more nimble F/A-18 Hornet and F-14 Tomcat supersonic fighters.

The next question about the Type 002 is the kind of catapult that will be installed, whether it has conventional steam-powered launch pads or the cutting-edge electromagnetic catapults that the US Navy has just started to trial on its newest flat-top, the Gerald R. Ford.

Reports by Chinese papers hint that both systems are being tested on mock carrier decks at a PLA pilot training base in northeastern Liaoning province.

But Chang said the propulsion system of the future carrier could turn out to be a drag, and the PLA might just opt for steam catapults as a stop-gap measure when the outmoded steam turbines and boilers, likely built with technology transfer from Ukraine, could barely propel the colossal hull at top speeds, let alone powering electromagnetic pads that are electricity guzzlers.

Also, due to power constraints, the Type 002 may need to shed its armament and aircraft inventory to reduce weight to sail faster for deployment at high seas. But in such a scenario, its combat readiness, in particular anti-ship and air-defense capabilities, could be questionable.

The Type 002 may formally enter service with the PLA by 2028.

Read more: 

Satellite spots Beijing’s new carrier project

Choppy waters as carrier nears home stretch

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world's first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now. 

Join the Conversation

1092 Comments

  1. Hello, Neat post. There’s a problem with your site in internet explorer, might test this?K IE nonetheless is the market leader and a good portion of folks will miss your fantastic writing due to this problem.

  2. you’re really a good webmaster. The website loading speed is incredible. It seems that you are doing any unique trick. In addition, The contents are masterwork. you’ve done a magnificent job on this topic!

  3. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Bless you!

  4. It is perfect time to make a few plans for the longer term and it is time to be happy. I have learn this submit and if I could I wish to suggest you some attention-grabbing things or tips. Maybe you could write next articles regarding this article. I want to read even more issues about it!

  5. I’ve been browsing on-line more than 3 hours these days, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty value sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made excellent content material as you probably did, the net can be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  6. Thank you for sharing superb informations. Your website is very cool. I’m impressed by the details that you have on this web site. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for extra articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found just the info I already searched everywhere and simply couldn’t come across. What an ideal web site.

  7. Someone necessarily lend a hand to make critically articles I’d state. That is the first time I frequented your web page and so far? I surprised with the analysis you made to make this actual put up extraordinary. Magnificent process!

  8. Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I’d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

  9. El gas es una energía más limpia y económica que la electricidad, tenlo en cuenta a la hora de cambiar tu caldera cocina. La nevera es uno de los electrodomésticos de la casa que más energía consume, por ello hay que prestarle más atención. Llama al servicio técnico si la nevera hace ruido constantemente, significa que el motor funciona sin parar. Se instala en la entrada del agua de la vivienda y dispone de un contador que en cuento detecta un consumo anómalo cierra automáticamente el paso del agua. Los aireadores son pequeñas piezas que se enroscan en la punta de los caños de los grifos para incorporar aire al chorro de agua y así reducir el consumo de agua entre un 40 y 50 sin notarlo.

  10. Fantastic goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely fantastic. I really like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it sensible. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a terrific site.

  11. An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  12. Hi, Neat post. There’s an issue with your website in web explorer, might check this… IE nonetheless is the market leader and a good component of folks will omit your excellent writing because of this problem.

  13. Hi, just required you to know I he added your site to my Google bookmarks due to your layout. But seriously, I believe your internet site has 1 in the freshest theme I??ve came across. It extremely helps make reading your blog significantly easier.

  14. I have been browsing online more than three hours today, but I never discovered any interesting article like yours. It is beautiful worth enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content material as you probably did, the net shall be much more helpful than ever before. “Dreams have as much influence as actions.” by Stephane Mallarme.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *