Monday, 15 January 2018

China has started building its third aircraft carrier


China has started building its third aircraft carrier, military sources say

Work on the vessel, which will use a hi-tech launch system, began at a Shanghai shipyard last year but it is not known when it will be completed

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 January, 2018, 9:02pm

UPDATED : Friday, 05 January, 2018, 2:30pm

China started building its third aircraft carrier, with a hi-tech launch system, at a Shanghai shipyard last year, according to sources close to the People’s Liberation Army.

One of the sources said Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard Group was given the go-ahead to begin work on the vessel after military leaders met in Beijing following the annual sessions of China’s legislature and top political advisory body in March.

“But the shipyard is still working on the carrier’s hull, which is expected to take about two years,” the source said. “Building the new carrier will be more complicated and challenging than the other two ships.”

China has been trying to build up a blue-water navy that can operate globally and support its maritime security, but it so far has only one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning – a repurposed Soviet ship it bought from Ukraine that went into service in 2012.

Its first Chinese designed and built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, is expected to go into full service later this year.

The sources all said it was too early to say when the third vessel would be launched, but China plans to have four aircraft carrier battle groups in service by 2030, according to naval experts.

Shipbuilders and technicians from Shanghai and Dalian are working on the third vessel, which will have a displacement of about 80,000 tonnes – 10,000 tonnes more than the Liaoning, according to another source close to the PLA Navy.

“China has set up a strong and professional aircraft carrier team since early 2000, when it decided to retrofit the Varyag [the unfinished vessel China bought from Ukraine] to launch as the Liaoning, and it hired many Ukrainian experts ... as technical advisers,” the second source said.

The sources also confirmed that the new vessel, the CV-18, will use a launch system that is more advanced than the Soviet-designed ski-jump systems used in its other two aircraft carriers.

Its electromagnetic aircraft launch system will mean less wear and tear on the planes and it will allow more aircraft to be launched in a shorter time than other systems.

Dalian Shipbuilding Industry spent more than eight years refurbishing and upgrading the Liaoning. It is a subsidiary of state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Corp (CSIC), as is the Shanghai shipyard.

CSIC chairman Hu Wenming in November told state broadcaster CCTV that China now had the expertise to build any type of aircraft carrier. He said a unit of 5,000 people from across the country had been formed to work on developing the country’s aircraft carrier fleet.

The latest aircraft carrier project has been in the pipeline for some time. Satellite images taken back in 2009 showed a huge frame had been installed at the Shanghai shipyard to accommodate large-scale projects. That year, its general manager Nan Daqing told Shanghai Dragon TV the company was “fully prepared” to build the country’s first home-grown aircraft carrier.

The Jiangnan shipyard is China’s oldest – it was founded during the Qing dynasty in 1865 and became a state-owned enterprise in 1949.

Sources said the layout of the new aircraft carrier, including its flight deck and “island” command centre, would be different from the other two.

“The new vessel will have a smaller tower island than the Liaoning and its sister ship because it needs to accommodate China’s carrier-based J-15 fighter jets, which are quite large,” the first source said.

“It has been suggested that they look to Britain’s warship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, which has two small tower islands on the deck. That would create more space for the runway and aircraft, but no final decision has been made yet.”

China’s navy has meanwhile begun training its own fighter pilots, rather than recruiting them from the air force, as it prepares to expand the fleet, the official PLA Daily reported.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Work under way on third aircraft carrier, sources say

Original post:

Type 002 (CV-18)

China is reportedly planning to produce two Type 002 carriers; the first is slated to be comissioned in 2021. The carriers are anticipated to have a displacement in the range of 85,000 tons each, making them the biggest Chinese carriers to date. Liaoning is only about 55,000 tons, while the Type 001A is about 70,000 tons. It is said they will be built at the Jiangnan Changxing Shipbuilding factory near Shanghai, the world's largest shipyard. But the Chinese authorities have not yet confirmed the project, and there had been no visible evidence of the construction process by early 2017.

The Type 002 configuration would for the first time be catapult-assisted takeoff but arrested recovery (CATOBAR), while the first two carriers were short takeoff but arrested recovery carrier (STOBAR). For the Chinese navy this is a new subject, the Liaoning ship and 001A-type experience provide no reference. For China to "develop by leaps and bounds" for the 002 type to become fully combat effective, two or three years time would be necessary, after 2025.

The reputable Kanwa Asian Defence, an English-language monthly defense review produced in Toronto, reported in October 2014 that Shanghai's Jiangnan Shipyard was preparing to start work on a new carrier. According to Internet reports, the first Type 002 was laid down in mid 2015, when construction started in Jiangnan Shipyard. It is estimated that it would be delivered to the Chinese navy around 2020. Type 002 is likely to have a flight deck that uses catapult takeoff, possibly steam ejection, or more probably, electromagnetic ejection, which requires more electric power. If the Type 002 aircraft carriers did not use electromagnetic launch, then the electromagnetic launch would be used on the Type 003, and the carrier will also carry stealth aircraft. 

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