China’s third aircraft carrier likely to be fitted with catapultsPosted: August 5, 2016
A photograph has emerged on Chinese online forums showing that China’s land-based aircraft carrier mock-up in Wuhan, Hubei Province, is undergoing modifications.
These are likely to reflect changes between China’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, which is currently being built at Dalian shipyard and the next one to be constructed, which is commonly referred to as the Type 002.
Most significantly the ski-jump section has been removed from the mock-up, reinforcing expectations that China’s third carrier will be equipped with catapults.
Construction of China’s third carrier is expected to take place at the Jiangnan Changxingdao shipyard near Shanghai. So far there has been no official confirmation of the programme nor visible evidence of the construction, but there has been considerable speculation that production of the initial modules is already in progress.
Satellite imagery of the Huangdicun Airbase, which supports China’s J-15 carrier-based aircraft, reveals that construction of the facilities assessed to be catapults commenced in 2015. This is a further indication that future Chinese carriers will have a configuration for catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) operations.
The two systems being installed at Huangdicun are believed to be steam-powered and electromagnetic catapults. Installation of both suggests that a final decision on which system to adopt may not yet have been taken.
The latest unofficial images of the Type 001A carrier at Dalian show a ski-jump section designed for short take-off operations; similar to that on China’s first carrier Liaoning .
Construction of the structure up to the flight deck is largely complete, with the final ski-jump module assembled and ready for installation.
The addition of modules to form the island should follow before the carrier’s launch, which at the current rate of progress could take place before the end of 2016, although early 2017 is more likely.
Source: IHS Jane’s 360 “China’s third aircraft carrier likely to be fitted with catapults”