China’s aircraft carrier development ‘will not blindly follow the US’

By Liu Xuanzun

Source: Global Times Published: 2019/6/5 21:08:40

A future aircraft carrier function demonstration model is on display at the newly renovated and expanded Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution in Beijing on Sunday. Photo: Liu Xuanzun/GT

China should walk its own path for its future aircraft carrier development and not blindly follow other countries like the US, Chinese military experts said on Wednesday as US President Donald Trump announced plans to reverse advanced technologies used on US carriers back to traditional ones.

Trump said last week that he wants to replace the electromagnetic catapults on the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier with steam-powered ones, while China is reportedly eyeing to use electromagnetic catapults on its future aircraft carrier.

The electromagnetic catapults “have a $900 million cost overrun” and “steam’s worked for about 65 years perfectly,” Trump said, US-based media outlet Newsweek reported last week.

However, electromagnetic catapults have a significant advantage over steam-powered ones, said Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst.

An electromagnetic catapult is smaller and capable of controlling power output to launch different kinds of aircraft of different weights, Wei said, noting that Trump’s plan goes in the opposite direction of aircraft carrier development.

Trump seems to be more concerned about costs, and the older steam-powered catapult may provide more traditional job positions. These considerations are not military-related, Wei said.

The US has been the world leader in aircraft carrier development and deployment for decades, and China had to use carrier-operating countries for reference because it had none in the past, analysts said, but as China builds its own carriers, its future development will serve its own needs and not necessarily follow the paths of other countries.

A future aircraft carrier function demonstration model has been on display at the newly renovated and expanded Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution in Beijing since Saturday. It has a flat-deck and carries not only fighter jets, but also early warning aircraft and stealth drones.

Although it might not represent the exact aircraft carrier China will build, it is a vision China has of what it would be like in the future, analysts said.

“While other countries’ experiences and lessons are still worth studying, we should not blindly follow others,” Wei said.

Newspaper headline: Carrier devt ‘will not blindly follow US’

Source: Global Times “China’s aircraft carrier development ‘will not blindly follow the US’”

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

Exclusive Images show construction on China’s third and largest aircraft carrier – analysts

Greg Torode and Ben Blanchard

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – Construction of China’s first full-sized aircraft carrier is well under way, according to satellite images obtained and analyzed by a U.S. think tank.

The images from April, provided to Reuters by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, reveal considerable recent activity during the last six months on a large vessel at the Jiangnan shipyard outside Shanghai.

China has not formally confirmed it is building a third carrier, despite recent hints in state media, and the timing and extent of its carrier program remain state secrets.

The Pentagon said last week that work had begun, but no images have emerged until now.

Both Asian and Western militaries, and regional security analysts, are seeking information on the carrier, which is expected to be China’s first large, modern platform capable of leading a full range of strike group operations.

The effort to build a large, locally designed carrier is seen as a core part of China’s extensive military modernization drive. A series of recent Reuters Special Reports showed how that effort is challenging decades of U.S. strategic superiority in East Asia.

The CSIS images show a bow section that appears to end with a flat 30-metre (98-foot) front and a separate hull section 41 meters wide, with gantry cranes looming overhead.

That suggests a vessel, which China has dubbed Type 002, somewhat smaller than 100,000-tonne U.S. carriers but larger than France’s 42,500-tonne Charles de Gaulle, analysts say.

Fabrication halls the size of several soccer pitches have been built nearby, and work appears to be continuing on a floodable basin, possibly to float the finished hull into the nearby Yangtze River estuary.

“While details regarding the Type 002 are limited, what is observable at Jiangnan is consistent with what is expected for the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s third aircraft carrier,” said the CSIS’ ChinaPower analysis, published on its website Tuesday.

CSIS analyst Matthew Funaiole told Reuters that images taken late last year were inconclusive, but that now the work under way is clear.

“From what we can see there has been a lot of activity in the last six months or so,” he said. “It would appear that it is the third carrier, and if it is not, it’s hard to envisage what other large vessel it would be.”

The Pentagon’s annual report on China’s military modernization, issued last Friday, noted that the third carrier would probably be larger than the first two and fitted with a catapult launch system to accelerate aircraft during takeoff.

“This design will enable it to support additional fighter aircraft, fixed-wing early-warning aircraft, and more rapid flight operations,” the report said.

Funaiole and other analysts said it was unclear what kind of catapult – traditional steam-powered or a more cutting-edge electromagnetic system – would be used.

It also remains unclear whether the Type 002 would be nuclear-powered. China has 10 nuclear-powered submarines, but so far no surface ships with nuclear propulsion; some analysts think China is not ready to make that step.

A satellite image shows what appears to be the construction of a third Chinese aircraft carrier at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, China April 17, 2019. CSIS/ChinaPower/Maxar Technologies 2019/Handout via

Singapore-based regional security analyst Ian Storey said a full-sized carrier would make some of China’s neighbors nervous and highlight the importance of their strategic relationship with the United States.

“Once completed, it will outclass any warship from any Asian country, including India and Japan,” said Storey, of the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute. “It is yet another indication that China has emerged as Asia’s paramount naval power.”

China’s first two carriers are relatively small, with only up to 25 aircraft, less than half the number aboard U.S. carriers, and have jump ramps built into their bows. That configuration limits not just the types of aircraft that can fly off them, but how much weaponry and fuel they can carry.

Its first carrier, the Liaoning, was a Soviet-era Ukrainian ship bought secondhand in 1998 and re-fitted in China. A still-unnamed second carrier based on that design, launched in 2017, was built locally.

The Liaoning had been seen as more of a training platform for teaching personnel the tricky art of carrier operations. But last month, Chinese state media said the ship “is starting to play a combat role following recent modifications and intensive training exercises.”

The second carrier has been undergoing sea trials from its base in northern Dalian and is not expected to enter service until 2020.

China’s state media have quoted experts as saying China needs at least six carriers. The United States operates 11 carriers.

China’s Ministry of Defence did not respond to a request for comment.

(The story adjusts time reference in 10th paragraph.)

(Reporting By Greg Torode in Hong Kong and Ben Blanchard in Beijing. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Source: Reuters “Exclusive: Images show construction on China’s third and largest aircraft carrier – analysts”

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

Third PLA carrier taking shape in Shanghai

Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard is now a hive of activity with new slipways and cranes added for the construction of future carriers. Photo: Google Maps

Destroyers are also seen at Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard. Photo: Google Maps

Vessel ‘Type 002’ will be a conventionally powered flat-top with steam catapults to send fighter jets off

ByAsia Times staff

China’s third aircraft carrier, known only as the Type 002, is now taking shape at Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard at a pace much faster than previously estimated.

Satellite images viewed by military observers show rain shelters have been erected above at least two slipways on the south shore of Shanghai’s Changxing island where the shipyard is located, and two new gantry cranes are also visible. All of these did not exist a year ago.

The size of the rain shelters suggests that the vessel, with key parts of its hull being built on different platforms, will dwarf the first Chinese-built carrier, known only as Type 001A, which underwent sea trials last year.

The speed from conception of the more advanced Type 002 to its upcoming keel-laying has prompted some pundits to suggest the new carrier could be put to sea for the first time around 2023.

Previous reports by the Kanwa Defense Review claim that Type 002 will sport a flat-top design equipped with steam catapults, so fighter jets will no longer be ejected from a ski-jump ramp like those on the Liaoning and Type 001A. But the new ship will still be conventionally powered.

Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard is now a hive of activity with new slipways and cranes added for the construction of future carriers. Photo: Google Maps

Meanwhile, the People’s Liberation Army has quietly boosted its fleet of destroyers on par with the US Navy’s Aegis–class warships to at least 28, according to a rough calculation based on reports by Chinese papers and satellite photos.

Four strike groups?

That number suggests that the PLA may ultimately maintain four carrier strike groups by the end of 2020s. That means Beijing could be looking at two to three similar flat-tops in Shanghai and Dalian one after another in the following years, in an expansion spree to rival the United States’ naval prowess in the Western Pacific.

Beijing needs to rev up construction and commissioning of newer carriers, as by that time the Liaoning – a refurbished Soviet vessel built in the 1980s – may be obsolete and facing retirement.

Zhu Yingfu, chief designer of the Liaoning, said in a speech in April 2018 that although the US had 11 carriers, it was likely that China would need far fewer.

“The US says it needs 10 carriers. We may not need that many, but there should be at least three. If conditions permit, there should be four or five,” he said.

If Beijing manages to make steady headway in the next decade towards its ambitious carrier-building goal for a “blue water” navy, then the US may no longer rule the roost in the region. And that may bode ill for Taiwan.

Beijing has also made no secret of its plan to launch nuclear carriers. Its first nuclear-powered vessel is expected to join the navy by about 2030 at the latest. That would ultimately bring the total number of Chinese carriers to six, according to local military experts.

The US Navy, with its considerable combat experience and global reach, would still be superior in 10 years, but the size of the Chinese fleet would be larger and the gap in technology and training would also have been reduced.

Source: Asia Times “Third PLA carrier taking shape in Shanghai”

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

China’s 3rd Aircraft Carrier Not Nuclear but Uses Catapult for Takeoff

A recently published image of China’s land-based aircraft carrier development facility at Wuhan shows that the height of the island’s forward upper superstructure has been increased to facilitate faring in the array panels of the phased array radar. (Via CJDBY website)

IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly says in its article “China’s land-based carrier mock-up undergoing further modifications” that according to photos of the mock-up island of China’s new aircraft carrier published in Chinese online forums, “the height of the island’s forward upper superstructure on the carrier mock-up has been increased to facilitate faring in the array panels of the phased array radar. In addition, the smaller square apertures above those for the main array panels suggest that the Type 002 may be equipped with a dual-band, phased-array radar: a configuration that appears to be similar to that on China’s Type 055 destroyers, the first of which was launched in June.”

Another major modification of the mock-up is the removal of parts for sky-jump takeoff on the deck. That gives rise to the speculation that catapults will be used for takeoff but it is unclear whether the catapults are steam or electromagnetic ones.

As no modification is seen in the back of the mock-up island, the article believes that China’s third aircraft carrier will be conventional instead of nuclear one. says in its article “Jane’s speculation of the configuration of China’s new-type aircraft carrier: Conventional powered plus catapult takeoff”, “So far there is no evidence that indicates construction has been underway and there is speculation outside China that the construction of the third aircraft carrier has been delayed for modification of design to allow the installation of electromagnetic instead of steam catapults.”

Source: IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly “China’s land-based carrier mock-up undergoing further modifications” (summary by Chan Kai Yee, full text of which can be viewed at

Source: “Jane’s speculation of the configuration of China’s new-type aircraft carrier: Conventional powered plus catapult takeoff” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the article in Chinese)

China’s Catapult Launched J-15 for Aircraft Carrier with Catapult

Prototype of catapult-launched j-15. photo

Prototype of catapult-launched j-15. photo

The device, strengthened landing gear of the prototype. photo

The takeoff device and strengthened landing gear of the prototype. photo

The above are photos of a new prototype of China’s J-15 carrier-based fighter jet. Taiwan’s major media believes that it is the prototype of catapult-launched carrier-based J-15 fighter jet as the landing gear is strengthened for catapult assisted takeoff.

Source: “Taiwan media: Disclosure of Mainland’s catapult-launched J-15, but perhaps not for China’s first homegrown aircraft carrier” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)

China’s third aircraft carrier likely to be fitted with catapults

This image shows that China's Type 001A carrier will feature a ski-jump section designed for short take-off operations. Source: Via

This image shows that China’s Type 001A carrier will feature a ski-jump section designed for short take-off operations. Source: Via

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”

China’s Homegrown Aircraft Carrier Being Assembled in Shanghai

China’s says in its report yesterday that according to Canada’s Kanwa Defense Review, China has finished the preparations for the construction of and will soon begin assembling its homegrown aircraft carrier at Changxing Island Shipyard, Shanghai.

Kanwa’s report has been confirmed by a Taiwanese media.

In November, quoted Russian military industry news website as saying that in early October, Chinese shipyard at Changxing Island installed radar, electronic system and weapons on the aircraft carrier it is making. The ship is scheduled to be launched before 2017 according to China’s plan to produce two China-made 48,000 to 64,000-ton conventional carriers.

In fact due to secrecy, the precise tonnage of the two aircraft carriers remains unknown. According to speculation both carriers are conventional without catapult to assist takeoff.

Source: “Kanwa exposes the assembly of China’s second aircraft carrier in Shanghai: Everything is ready” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)