Beijing says Liaoning is now a ‘combat carrier’

Midlife refit after seven years of service adds new technology to ageing hull

By Asia Times staff

The Liaoning, the People’s Liberation Army’s sole aircraft carrier, may still be mocked by some as a “second-hand” vessel given the 10 years of work Beijing put into refitting a Soviet-built hulk before its commission with the Chinese navy in 2012.

The ensuing years have seen the 55,000-ton carrier deployed in China’s coastal waters, serving as a giant training ship for PLA aviators and seamen on secondment missions.

Now the Chinese carrier may have graduated to assuming a new, leading role in Beijing’s imperative to form a blue-water navy.

Chinese media are trumpeting that, following its six-month mid-life refit at the Dalian Shipyard, the Liaoning has been transformed into a “combat-ready” sea-going airbase loaded with indigenous technologies.

The Liaoning carrier was the lead ship of the fanfare naval parade in the Yellow Sea marking the Chinese Navy’s 70th anniversary on Tuesday. Photo: Xinhua

FILE PHOTO: China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of South China Sea, in this undated photo taken December, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer/File photo

The Liaoning has now been equipped with upgraded arresting cables made of new composite materials for when the J-15 carrier-based fighters return to its deck, and an additional arresting net stand has been installed on the periphery of the flight deck to halt a plane in the event of a failed arrested landing, according to China Central Television.

The PLA engineers also made tweaks to its steam turbines and propulsion system, and the carrier’s anti-jamming capabilities were upgraded.

On top of these improvements, previous reports speculated that the PLA could have experimented with the installation of prototype electromagnetic catapults on the Liaoning. This might turn an old vessel built in Soviet Ukraine into a test bed for cutting-edge technologies to boost the speed and payloads of fighters operating from its flight deck.

The rationale of re-purposing the Liaoning for electromagnetic catapults is for the “crash training” of much-needed naval aviators. The PLA is facing a talent crunch in its drive to form elite, carrier-based fighter squadrons. Hence the Liaoning’s new “test bed” role is in line with its main mission thrust: a platform, first and foremost, for training and honing skills.

Despite the refit, the vessel still depends on a steam propulsion powerplant and continues to operate with a performance-limiting bow ramp on its deck, which means the Liaoning is unlikely to venture far from Chinese shores or to send her lightly-loaded J-15 fighters into serious combat. Furthermore, having been first laid down in the mid 1980s, the Liaoning could normally be expected to be mothballed within the next decade.

Source: Asia Times “Beijing says Liaoning is now a ‘combat carrier’”

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 shows off its new destroyer during massive display of naval power

The new type 055 guided-missile destroyer Nanchang of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy participates in a naval parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of China’s PLA Navy in the sea near Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong province, Tuesday, April 23, 2019.
The new type 055 guided-missile destroyer Nanchang.AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

Ryan Pickrell Apr 23, 2019, 12:02 PM

  • China celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of thePeople’s Liberation Army Navy in Qingdao on Tuesday, showing off some new weapons systems.
  • During the parade, which was shrouded in fog, mist, and rain, the Chinese navy showed off the Nanchang, the first of the newgeneration of Type 055 destroyers.
  • The new destroyers are the most heavily armed of China’s surface combatants, with 112 universal vertical-launch-system cells capable of firing anti-air, anti-ship, anti-submarine, andland-attack missiles.

China showed off a new naval weapon, the first of a new generation of hard-hitting destroyers, at a celebration of the70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army Navy on Tuesday.

During the celebratory maritime parade, the Nanchang (101), a 10,000-ton Type 055 stealth destroyer, sailed onto the scene, Reuters reported.

The ship is armed with 112 vertical-launch cells with theability to fire HHQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, YJ-18 anti-shipcruise missiles, and CJ-10 land-attack cruise missiles. The maingun is a H/PJ-38 130-mm gun, but there are reports that thisvessel could eventually be equipped with a railgun. The vessel uses X- and S-band radars, allowing it to track stealthy objects of various sizes.

Sailors stand on the deck of the new type 055 guided-missile destroyer Nanchang of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy as it participates in a naval parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of China’s PLA Navy in the sea near Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong province, Tuesday, April 23, 2019.
The Nanchang in China’s 70th anniversary naval parade. AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

The destroyer, technically large enough to be classified as a cruiser, has a substantial payload capacity that trails the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class cruisers but exceeds the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which have only 96 vertical-launch cells.The ship’s primary rival is said to be the Zumwalt-class destroyers, which continue to suffer from a variety of developmental problems.

The Nanchang, which was launched in 2017, started seatrials in August 2018, China Daily reported. Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst, told theGlobal Times that the public debut at the fleet review on Tuesday indicates that the vessel is now combat-ready.

Additional Type 055 destroyers are in the works. A second shipwas launched in April 2018, and two more were launched in July.These vessels, like the Nanchang, are expected to eventuallybecome heavily armed escort ships for China’s emerging carrierforce.

While the Liaoning – a Soviet heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser refitted to serve as China’s first aircraft carrier – was present at the naval parade in Qingdao on Tuesday, China’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier, which just completed its fifth sea trial, remained at the shipyard in Dalian.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy aircraft carrier Liaoning participates in a naval parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of China’s PLA Navy in the sea near Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong province, Tuesday, April 23, 2019.
The aircraft carrier Liaoning at the Chinese naval parade.AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

A total of 32 vessels and 39 aircraft participated in China’s celebratory fleet review. Among the other vessels on display was an apparently modified version of China’s Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines. China also showed off a new type of conventional submarine.

A Great Wall 236 submarine of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, billed by Chinese state media as a new type of conventional submarine, participates in a naval parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of China’s PLA Navy in the sea near Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong province, Tuesday, April 23, 2019.
A Great Wall 236 submarine. AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

China’s naval modernization is being watched carefully in Washington as the US shifts its focus from the counter insurgency fight to potential high-end conflict. The Army, the Navy, and the Marines are all increasingly looking at the kind of anti-ship weaponry required to punch holes in China’s fleet, a necessary capability as China strengthens its military.

Chinese media said the Type 055 destroyer is a “symbol of [the] Chinese navy’s development.”

Source: Business Insider “China shows off its new destroyer during massive display of naval power”

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

Liaoning carrier group conducts first ‘combat exercise’ in Western Pacific

China’s Liaoning carrier group conducted its first combat exercise in the western Pacific on 20-21 April, according to the PLAN. Source: Chinese MND

Gabriel Dominguez, London and Kosuke Takahashi, Tokyo – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly

23 April 2018

China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier group carried out its first ever “combat exercises” in the Western Pacific on 20-21 April, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Beijing announced on 22 April.

The exercise, which took place in an area east of the Bashi Channel, involved a total of six People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) major surface combatants along with the service’s only operating aircraft carrier, Liaoning , the latter of which deployed helicopters and Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC)] J-15 fighters.

The carrier group practised strike and defence manoeuvres and honed its long-range combat capabilities, the state-owned China Daily newspaper quoted the PLAN as saying, adding that the latest combat training was aimed at “verifying the collaborative ability of the group’s vessels and aircraft, examining the group’s offensive and defensive systems and fostering the ability of commanders to make decisions when faced with complicated circumstances”.

The latest exercise took place after Liaoning participated on 12 April in a naval parade in the South China Sea alongside 47 other PLAN vessels, 76 aircraft, and 10,000 personnel as part of a fleet review.

The event, which took place after the carrier had taken part in naval exercises in the area, was the largest review ever staged by the PLAN and served to showcase the “new-look People’s Navy”, according to the MND.

The ministry also referred to the importance of a speech made at the review by Chinese President Xi Jinping, in which he stated that “building a powerful people’s navy has never been as urgent as it is today in the struggle for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

Source: Jane’s 360 “Liaoning carrier group conducts first ‘combat exercise’ in Western Pacific”

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

China sends carrier through Taiwan Strait after Xi warning: report

FILE PHOTO: China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning departs Hong Kong, China, July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Reuters Staff March 21, 2018

TAIPEI (Reuters) – China has sent its sole operational aircraft carrier the Liaoning through the narrow Taiwan Strait that separates China from the self-ruled island, Taiwan’s defense minister said on Wednesday, according to local media.

The move comes on the heels of a warning from Chinese President Xi Jinping that Taiwan would face the “punishment of history” for any attempt at separatism. China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory and considers it a wayward province.

Speaking at Taiwan’s parliament, Defence Minister Yen Teh-fa said the Liaoning entered the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

The ministry is keeping a close watch on its progress, the report cited Yen as saying.

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

In January, the Liaoning sailed twice through the Taiwan Strait, in what China said was part of routine drills.

Taiwan says China has ramped up military exercises around the island in the past year or so. The island is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint.

China’s hostility towards Taiwan has risen since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, a member of the island’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.

China suspects Tsai wants to push for formal independence, which would cross a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing, though Tsai has said she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Monday expressed anger at comments by Taiwan Premier William Lai that Taiwan is a sovereign independent country, saying it was a “serious provocation” and that Taiwan was not and could never be a country.

China has also been infuriated by U.S. President Donald Trump’s signing into law last week legislation that encourages the United States to send senior officials to Taiwan to meet Taiwanese counterparts, and vice versa.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alex Wong is in Taiwan this week, where he is due to speak at a business event in Taipei later on Wednesday with Tsai.

Reporting by Fabian Hamacher and Twinnie Siu; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Himani Sarkar

Source: Reuters “China sends carrier through Taiwan Strait after Xi warning: report”

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 building third aircraft carrier to protect ‘overseas interests’

While China's first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, is a refitted Soviet-era ship, the second is being built on the same model with more advanced features and is likely to enter service in 2019 ~ file photo Reuters

While China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, is a refitted Soviet-era ship, the second is being built on the same model with more advanced features and is likely to enter service in 2019 ~ file photo Reuters

The class Type 002 is likely to be based on US models and not Russian ones unlike the first aircraft carrier, Liaoning.

By Nandini Krishnamoorthy February 22, 2017 09:54 GMT

As China is finishing the construction of its second aircraft carrier, it is reportedly building a third one that is likely to be based on US models. China is also planning to build five or six such aircraft carriers as it seeks to reinforce its claims in the disputed territories of the South China Sea, experts have said.

According to the Global Times, the newest aircraft carrier with the class name Type 002, which is being built in Shanghai, is likely to feature catapult technology that will allow jets with heavier load and endurance to be launched from it.

“In other words, 002 is entirely different from the Liaoning [001] and 001A [the second aircraft carrier], and it will look like a US aircraft carrier rather than a Russian one,” Li Jie, a naval military expert, said.

The third aircraft carrier is the latest in Beijing’s ambitious warship programme that includes building at least two such ships to counter the US Navy in the Asia-Pacific region. The Chinese navy is currently operating its first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, which was a refitted Soviet-era warship.

The second one that is on the verge of completion is also based on the same model but has more advanced features. The second one is said to be China’s first home-made vessel and is expected to officially join the navy in 2019.

Yin Zhuo, a senior researcher at the PLA Navy Equipment Research Centre, said China is building its third aircraft carrier “in order to protect China’s territories and overseas interests”.

“China needs two carrier strike groups in the West Pacific Ocean and two in the Indian Ocean. So we need at least five to six aircraft carriers,” the Communist Party mouthpiece cited him as saying.

The Chinese media have in the past reported about the possibility of a third aircraft carrier but it is the first time it has officially said it was being built.

The second aircraft carrier has already raised tensions as it is speculated to be based near the disputed South China Sea, which has been the source of friction between Beijing and the US and its regional allies. The carrier is being built at the port of Dalian but China is yet to officially announce a home for it.

The report about the Type 002 construction came two days after the US Navy deployed its aircraft carriers in the hotly contest waters in a challenge to Beijing’s claims.
The US on 19 February said an aircraft carrier strike group had begun what it calls “routine operations” in the mineral-rich international waterway. The group led by the Nimitz-class USS Carl Vinson kicked off its patrol with support from a fleet of warships, a move that raised further tensions between China and the US.
The development also comes within days of a warning from Beijing not to interfere with Chinese sovereignty in the region.

Source: International Business Times “China building third aircraft carrier to protect ‘overseas interests’”

Note: This is International Business Times’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s 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, 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.

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.