China’s Homegrown Aircraft Carrier to Be Launched Soon


Airbus Defence and Space imagery dated 13 January showing China's Type 001A aircraft carrier hull nearing completion at Dalian shipyard. Prior to launch, remaining supports will be removed, as will objects within the dry dock. Source: CNES 2017, Distribution Airbus DS/2017 IHS Markit

Airbus Defence and Space imagery dated 13 January showing China’s Type 001A aircraft carrier hull nearing completion at Dalian shipyard. Prior to launch, remaining supports will be removed, as will objects within the dry dock. Source: CNES 2017, Distribution Airbus DS/2017 IHS Markit

Sean O’Connor, Indianapolis – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly

23 February 2017

Key Points
•China’s Type 001A aircraft carrier is nearing completion, with most external structural work visibly complete.
•Following the addition of a red anti-fouling coating to the lower hull, little work remains before the 001A hull can be launched.

Airbus Defence and Space imagery captured on 13 January shows progress being made with China’s Type 001A aircraft carrier (CV) at the Dalian shipyard in northeastern China, where the carrier hull is progressing towards being launched.

Jane’s previously examined the status of the shipbuilding programmes at Dalian in August 2016. Since then the superstructure of the Type 001A CV has been installed, along with the aircraft elevators, and the remaining decking has been put in place. Minor work remains visible on deck, with a portion of decking seen temporarily removed in November 2016.

On 20 February state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported that some of the support equipment, possibly including support bracers or scaffolding around the upper surfaces, had been removed and that red paint had been applied to the hull. Red anti-fouling paint is used beneath the waterline to prevent the growth of marine organisms on the hull, which can affect performance.

The lack of major external components remaining to be installed on the Type 001A CV hull, and the presence of the red anti-fouling paint on the lower hull, indicates that it is nearing launch. The only major exterior work remaining involves surfacing and painting the flight deck. It may be possible to perform this task following launch, should the dry dock be required for another shipbuilding programme. A key indicator that the Type 001A is preparing for launch will be removal of extant support bracers currently in place within the dry dock, as well as any remaining equipment or materials residing on the dry dock floor.

Meanwhile, the 13 January satellite imagery also shows that the second Dalian-produced Type 052D guided-missile destroyer (DDG) is receiving weapons and sensors.

Source: IHS Jane’s 360 “China’s Type 001A CV makes progress at Dalian”

Note: This is IHS Jane’s 360’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Why China Fears (And Plans to Sink) America’s Aircraft Carriers


USS Ronald Reagan conducts rudder checks. Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Navy

USS Ronald Reagan conducts rudder checks. Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Navy

Kyle Mizokami February 19, 2017

More than twenty years ago, a military confrontation in East Asia pushed the United States and China uncomfortably close to conflict. Largely unknown in America, the event made a lasting impression on China, especially Chinese military planners. The Third Taiwan Crisis, as historians call it, was China’s introduction to the power and flexibility of the aircraft carrier, something it obsesses about to this day.

The crisis began in 1995. Taiwan’s first-ever democratic elections for president were set for 1996, a major event that Beijing naturally opposed. The sitting president, Lee Teng-hui of the Kuomintang party, was invited to the United States to speak at his alma mater, Cornell University. Lee was already disliked by Beijing for his emphasis on “Taiwanization,” which favored home rule and established a separate Taiwanese identity away from mainland China. Now he was being asked to speak at Cornell on Taiwan’s democratization, and Beijing was furious.

The Clinton administration was reluctant to grant Lee a visa—he had been denied one for a similar talk at Cornell the year before—but near-unanimous support from Congress forced the White House’s hand. Lee was granted a visa and visited Cornell in June. The Xinhua state news agency warned, “The issue of Taiwan is as explosive as a barrel of gunpowder. It is extremely dangerous to warm it up, no matter whether the warming is done by the United States or by Lee Teng-hui. This wanton wound inflicted upon China will help the Chinese people more clearly realize what kind of a country the United States is.”

In August 1995, China announced a series of missiles exercises in the East China Sea. Although the exercises weren’t unusual, their announcement was, and there was speculation that this was the beginning of an intimidation campaign by China, both as retaliation against the Cornell visit and intimidation of Taiwan’s electorate ahead of the next year’s elections. The exercises involved the People’s Liberation Army’s Second Artillery Corps (now the PLA Rocket Forces) and the redeployment of Chinese F-7 fighters (China’s version of the MiG-21 Fishbed fighter) 250 miles from Taiwan. Also, in a move that would sound very familiar in 2017, up to one hundred Chinese civilian fishing boats entered territorial waters around the Taiwanese island of Matsu, just off the coast of the mainland.

According to Globalsecurity.org, redeployments of Chinese long-range missile forces continued into 1996, and the Chinese military actually prepared for military action. China drew up contingency plans for thirty days of missile strikes against Taiwan, one strike a day, shortly after the March 1996 presidential elections. These strikes were not carried out, but preparations were likely detected by U.S. intelligence.

In March 1996, China announced its fourth major military exercises since the Cornell visit. The country’s military announced a series of missile test zones off the Chinese coastline, which also put the missiles in the approximate direction of Taiwan. In reality, China fired three missiles, two of which splashed down just thirty miles from the Taiwanese capital of Taipei and one of which splashed down thirty-five miles from Kaohsiung. Together, the two cities handled most of the country’s commercial shipping traffic. For an export-driven country like Taiwan, the missile launches seemed like an ominous shot across the country’s economic bow.

American forces were already operating in the area. The USS Bunker Hill, a Ticonderoga-class Aegis cruiser, was stationed off southern Taiwan to monitor Chinese missile tests with its SPY-1 radar system. The Japan-based USS Independence, along with the destroyers Hewitt and O’Brien and frigate McClusky, took up position on the eastern side of the island.

After the missile tests, the carrier USS Nimitz left the Persian Gulf region and raced back to the western Pacific. This was an even more powerful carrier battle group, consisting of the Aegis cruiser Port Royal, guided missile destroyers Oldendorf and Callaghan (which would later be transferred to the Taiwanese Navy), guided missile frigate USS Ford, and nuclear attack submarine USS Portsmouth. Nimitz and its escorts took up station in the Philippine Sea, ready to assist Independence. Contrary to popular belief, neither carrier actually entered the Taiwan Strait.

The People’s Liberation Army, unable to do anything about the American aircraft carriers, was utterly humiliated. China, which was just beginning to show the consequences of rapid economic expansion, still did not have a military capable of posing a credible threat to American ships just a short distance from of its coastline.

While we might never know the discussions that later took place, we know what has happened since. Just two years later a Chinese businessman purchased the hulk of the unfinished Russian aircraft carrier Riga, with the stated intention of turning it into a resort and casino. We know this ship today as China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, after it was transferred to the PLA Navy and underwent a fifteen-year refurbishment. At least one other carrier is under construction, and the ultimate goal may be as many as five Chinese carriers.

At the same time, the Second Artillery Corps leveraged its expertise in long-range rockets to create the DF-21D antiship ballistic missile. The DF-21 has obvious applications against large capital ships, such as aircraft carriers, and in a future crisis could force the U.S. Navy to operate eight to nine hundred miles off Taiwan and the rest of the so-called “First Island Chain.”

The Third Taiwan Crisis was a brutal lesson for a China that had long prepared to fight wars inside of its own borders. Still, the PLA Navy deserves credit for learning from the incident and now, twenty-two years later, it is quite possible that China could seriously damage or even sink an American carrier. Also unlike the United States, China is in the unique position of both seeing the value of carriers and building its own fleet while at the same time devoting a lot of time and resources to the subject of sinking them. The United States may soon find itself in the same position.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.

Source: National Interest “Why China Fears (And Plans to Sink) America’s Aircraft Carriers”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Images reveal mock-up of Chinese carrier-borne AEW&C aircraft


Released in online forums on 26 January, this image shows what appears to be a full-scale model of a Chinese navalised AEW&C aircraft on China's land-based carrier mock-up in Wuhan. Source: Via Weibo

Released in online forums on 26 January, this image shows what appears to be a full-scale model of a Chinese navalised AEW&C aircraft on China’s land-based carrier mock-up in Wuhan. Source: Via Weibo

Richard D Fisher Jr, Washington DC and Gabriel Dominguez, London – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly 30 January 2017

Images posted on online forums show what appears to be a full-scale model of a Chinese navalised airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft on China’s land-based carrier mock-up: an indication that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is seeking to equip a future carrier with such aircraft.

Published on the social media platform Weibo on 26 January, the images show the model, which looks similar to the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye AEW&C aircraft, near the city of Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei Province.

The photographs are seen as a yet another indication that China is looking to develop a catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR)-equipped aircraft carrier.

The reason behind this assumption is that an E-2 Hawkeye-type aircraft would need a catapult to take off from an aircraft carrier and could therefore not operate from a short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) carrier, such as China’s only operational carrier, Liaoning.

Expectations that China’s third carrier, which is commonly referred to as the Type 002, will be equipped with catapults were reinforced in early August 2016 when images emerged showing the country’s land-based aircraft carrier mock-up undergoing modifications. Most significantly, its ski-jump section had been removed.

Moreover, on 15 September images were released of a Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-15 in flight featuring what appeared to be modifications to its front undercarriage that would enable the aircraft to conduct catapult-assisted take-offs.

The Chinese military has multiple AEW&C programmes under way. The development of a carrier-borne AEW&C aircraft may provide the country’s future carriers with a broader spectrum of capabilities possibly matching those of US carrier air wings.

Source: IHS Jane’s 360 “Images reveal mock-up of Chinese carrier-borne AEW&C aircraft”

Note: This is IHS Jane’s 360’report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China’s second aircraft carrier ‘takes shape’: media


China’s second aircraft carrier is “taking shape” after two years and nine months of construction, local media reported, a move likely to further unnerve Taiwan and other neighbors about Beijing’s growing military assertiveness.

Construction of The Shandong, named after a province in China’s east coast, began in 2014, the APP of Shandong television and radio said in a report seen on Tuesday.

The Shandong, China’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, is “taking shape”, the report said. It did not give a date for completion or further details.

It was being built in the northeastern port of Dalian, the Defense Ministry has said.

The country’s first aircraft carrier, The Liaoning, was bought from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China.

In January 2017 a group of Chinese warships, led by The Liaoning, tested weapons and equipment in the South China Sea in what the Chinese Foreign Ministry described as routine exercises that comply with international law.

The group of warships sailed through waters south of Japan and then rounded east and south of Taiwan in December on their way to the southern Chinese province of Hainan.

But China is years away from perfecting carrier operations similar to those the United States has practised for decades.

The eventual launch of The Shandong would further rattle self-ruled democratic Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, as well as Asian neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam with disputed claims in the South China Sea.

China and Taiwan have been diplomatic and military rivals since 1949 when Nationalist, or Kuomintang, troops lost the Chinese civil war to the Communists on the mainland and fled to the island.

Bilateral trade, investment and tourism have grown significantly in the past three decades, but tensions have been simmering since the island elected President Tsai Ing-wen from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party last year.

China has vowed to attack if the island declared de jure independence.

(Reporting by Judy Hua and Benjamin Kang Lim; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: Reuters “China’s second aircraft carrier ‘takes shape’: media”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China to Have 90,000 to 100,000-ton Nuclear Aircraft Carrier


A Full Set With likely at least a squadron of J-15 fighters (eight on the deck, more likely below), the Liaoning has one of the most powerful non-American carrier aviation groups in the world. Xinhua photo

A Full Set
With likely at least a squadron of J-15 fighters (eight on the deck, more likely below), the Liaoning has one of the most powerful non-American carrier aviation groups in the world. Xinhua photo

The Liaoning aircraft carrier group. PLA photo

The Liaoning aircraft carrier group. PLA photo

Popular Science’s article “China’s new aircraft carrier hints at the future of its navy” says China’s third homegrown aircraft carrier will be a 90,000 to 100,000-ton nuclear one with electromagnetic catapult that enables it to carry 70-100 stealth fighter jets, AEW&C aircrafts and aerial tanker with maximum takeoff weight of 50 tons and helicopters.

The following is the full text of the article:

China’s new aircraft carrier hints at the future of its navy

The Liaoning carried at least three helicopters, eight fighters, three destroyers, two frigates, and a refueling ship.

By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer January 13, 2017

Last month China reported that its aircraft carrier Liaoning was ready to start operational service. The country’s navy provided proof on Christmas Day, sending out its first carrier battle group (CVBG) through the Miyako Straits, around Taiwan, and into the South China Sea, launching and recovering aircraft along the way.

Looking ahead to 2030, the next Chinese carrier will likely look very similar to the Liaoning CVBG, with updated destroyers and frigates that provide a more advanced layered defense and missile strike system. It will likely be accompanied by an arsenal of drones.

And then come the nuclear-powered carriers of the Type 003 Chinese aircraft carrier. The Type 003 itself would likely have a displacement of around 90,000-100,000 tons and carry anywhere from between 70-100 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, and have multiple aircraft elevators and a single island superstructure. With a nuclear-powered reactor, the Type 003 could reach speeds in excess of 30 knots. The reactors could also provide the power for electromagnetically assisted launch system (EMALS) catapults (the preceding conventional Type 002 carrier may use steam catapults). EMALS catapults have improved efficiency and are less maintenance intensive than steam catapults.

The air group will likely still use J-15 fighters for multi-role purposes, along with an electronic warfare mission variant. For dedicated air superiority mission, the air group could also have fifth-generation stealth fighters, most likely navalized versions of either the J-31 or even the J20. The EMALS catapult could allow the Type 003 to launch aircraft with a takeoff weight of up to 50 tons, including aerial tankers, airborne early warning aircraft (especially useful to guiding long range missiles against distant aircraft), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) planes, smaller cargo planes and strike aircraft. Given Chinese interest in unmanned vehicles, the Type 003 could come with a UAV for surveillance and reconnaissance. The Type 003’s air group will also have helicopters for ASW and search and rescue missions.

The CVBG’s escort elements will likely consist of Type 055 destroyers and a future Chinese frigate (Type 057?) with an integrated mast. The improved Type 055, upgraded from the current hulls under construction, would have integrated electric propulsion system to increase onboard power generation for sensors and direct energy weapons. It will likely also be armed with over a hundred long-range anti-air and surface attack missiles, in addition to carrying helicopters. Given Chinese interest in unmanned naval vehicles, those surface combatants would likely carry UAVs, UUVs, and USVs for mine countermeasure. For underwater escort, the accompanying submarine would likely be a Type 095 nuclear attack submarine, stealthier and more heavily armed than current Chinese attack boats.

Depending on the CVBG mission profile, amphibious warfare ships like the Type 071 landing platform dock and landing helicopter docks be deployed to help disembark Chinese marines and air cavalry forces.

Years of operational experience are still needed to make the Liaoning, and the rest of the PLAN, ready for combat and other intensive carrier operations. But the PLA is now off to an important start with the Liaoning, and they have bigger plans for the future.

Source: Popular Science “China’s new aircraft carrier hints at the future of its navy”

Note: This is Popular Science’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


US Aircraft Carriers Doomed Facing China’s J-20 Fleet


A J-20 climbing up. Credit: Dingsheng.com/1562

A J-20 climbing up. Credit: Dingsheng.com/1562

According to Russian military observation website, China is producing J-20 faster than US F-35B and F-35C to ensure China’s air superiority in long- and super long-range air battles.

A regiment of 30 J-20s is enough to quickly and effectively intercept US early warning and manned and unmanned reconnaissance aircrafts, turning US military blind in areas near China.

With the production capacity of making 36 J-20s a year, China will have a regiment of J-20s by mid 2018.

In addition, 2 J-20 regiment (60 planes) plus dozens of DF-21D are enough to drive away US and Japanese navies. The US may develop better missiles to intercept DF-21D and even DF-26 as US AN/SPY-1A/D multi-function radar can detect the ballistic missiles. However US radar cannot detect a fleet of 10 J-20s conducting stealth attack at US navy with their radars turned off. The 20 YJ-91 supersonic anti-ship missiles carried by those J-20s are enough to sink a US aircraft carrier.

China is now developing hypersonic microwave electromagnetic warheads and stealth warheads even more difficult to intercept. China will have 500 J-20s by 2026, which will enable it to have advantages over others’ navy in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “Russian media: US aircraft carrier battle group doomed facing fleet of J-20s” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


First China-made Aircraft Carrier to Launch Soon, Commission 2018


China's first homegrown aicraft carrier with prefabricaed modues installed.

China’s first homegrown aicraft carrier with prefabricaed modues installed.

Mil.news.sina.com.cn says in its report yesterday that as the hull has been built. all the prefabricated modules, installed and the bottom is being painted, China’s first homegrown aircraft carrier may be launched next month. According to US experience, outfitting takes half of the duration of the construction up to launch, which is three years for the carrier, the carrier will be commissioned in the later half of 2018.

Source: mil.news.sina.com.cn “China’s first homegrown aircraft carrier will perhaps be launched in December: Will the next one use electromagnetic catapult” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)