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  • China's Growing Carrier Fleet

    Is This China’s SECOND Aircraft Carrier?

    August 1, 2013

    After a 14-year saga involving a bargain-bin purchase from Ukraine, painstaking renovations and much obfuscation, in the summer of 2012 China commissioned its first aircraft carrier, the second-hand Liaoning.

    Lots of people in the U.S. and its allies freaked out, although the flattop itself is of limited utility. One small carrier is really just a target for America’s warplanes and submarines.

    More worrying for China’s maritime rivals including America was Beijing’s vow to build at least two more carriers. Bigger ones. With better systems. And maybe even stealth planes to fly off them.

    Now we might have glimpsed the earliest evidence of the first of these homegrown flattops, in hazy photos from northern China’s Dalian shipyard leaked online—presumably by the legions of government-sponsored Internet users who function as Beijing’s street-level propagandists.

    The photos seems to depict one of the new carrier’s blocks — that is, a section of the hull that later will be welded to other sections to produce the entire vessel.

    What’s most compelling is the divot in the deck, identified by the red square on the photo above. That’s apparently a trench for a steam-powered airplane catapult.

    That’s a big deal because like Russia’s sole carrier, Liaoning doesn’t have a catapult, so it can launch only lightly-loaded warplanes. The Russian and Chinese Flanker carrier jets fly from their flattops with minimal fuel and weaponry, putting them at a disadvantage against American and French carrier fighters that are boosted fully loaded by their ships’ catapults.

    With this apparent evidence of a new carrier, China’s future naval plan is becoming clearer. The new flattop could carry the latest warplanes, possibly including a sea-based version of the Chinese J-31 stealth fighter prototype, unveiled last fall. The J-31 features the heavy-duty twin nose wheels that are typical of flattop-based planes.

    It’s not clear when the home-made carrier might enter service. American flattops take nearly a decade to build. China’s could take longer, especially given Liaoning’s tortured development (it was originally launched by the Soviets in 1988).

    If China aims to challenge the U.S. Navy at sea, a big fleet of carriers is a good start — although submarines would be a cheaper and more dangerous option. For now, America has a huge aviation advantage, with 10 carriers in service, powerful air wings and 100 years of flattop experience.

    But if these snapshots are any indication, China could catch up soon in the at-sea arms race.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: China's Growing Carrier Fleet started by American Patriot View original post
    Comments 20 Comments
    1. American Patriot's Avatar
      American Patriot -
      "Flat top carriers of any fleet, from any country, anywhere in the world are merely targets for US fighter planes and bombers..."

      There. Fixed it.
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      China Building Second Aircraft Carrier, Two More In The Pipeline

      January 19, 2014

      For months, rumors have been floating that China is building a second aircrafit carrier. It is not a fact. Reuters cites Chinese and Hong Kong media reports that China is building its second aircraft carrier, which is expected to take six years. While it is constructing this one, China plans to build at least two more, as it aims to have four aircraft carriers in the near future.

      As a reminder, the country's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning - a Soviet-era ship bought from Ukraine in 1998 and re-fitted in a Chinese shipyard - has long been a symbol of China's naval build-up, and recently saw its maiden voyage in the South China Sea when in a clear demonstration of naval force, it crossed through the Taiwan straits. The Liaoning successfully executed more than 100 tests, including those of its combat systems, during drills in the disputed South China Sea last month. The exercises off the coast of Hainan Island marked not only the first time China had sent a carrier into the South China Sea but the first time it had maneuvered with the kind of strike group of escort ships U.S. carriers deploy, according to regional military officers and analysts.

      However, since the Lioning was a retrofit and not China's own creation, the country's navy has been scrambling to get beyond the ridicule it can only "reverse engineer" its crowning ship. Hence the push for a second one.

      From Reuters:

      After two decades of double-digit increases in the military budget, China's admirals plan to develop a full blue-water navy capable of defending growing economic interests as well as disputed territory in the South and East China Seas.

      Successfully operating the 60,000-tonne Liaoning is the first step in what state media and some military experts believe will be the deployment of locally built carriers by 2020.

      In comments carried on Chinese news websites, Wang Min, the Communist Party boss of the northeastern province of Liaoning, where the first carrier is based, said the second carrier was being built in the port city of Dalian.

      Its construction would take about six years, and in future China would have a fleet of at least four carriers, Wang told members of the province's legislature on Saturday, the reports added.

      Dalian is the port where the existing carrier was re-fitted for use by the Chinese navy.

      Of course, the parallels to the cold war build up of nuclear weapons between the US and the USSR are quite obvious making one wonder if the same strategy is in play once more, especially when one considers that the US itself is also building three Ford-class supercarriers, the CVN-78, 79 and 80.

      Finally, as we showed before, here are leaked photos of the second aircraft carrier in construction from China Defense.

      Finally for those curious about more than just China's nascent aircraft carrier fleet, here are some additional maps from the most recent Congressional report on Chinese military developments:

    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      China confirms to build 4 Aircraft Carriers

      January 18 2014 at 5:25 PM

      Section of aircraft carrier built last year to attract aircraft carrier contract.

      The 2nd session of the 12th Liaoning Provincial Peoples Congress is now being held in Shenyang. Wang Min, Liaoning Party secretary and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Congress disclosed in the morning group discussion today that construction of Chinas second homegrown aircraft carrier has started at Dalian Shipyard and is expected to be completed in 6 years. In the future, China will at least have 4 aircraft carriers. In addition, the shipyard is responsible for building two new-version 052D Aegis missile destroyers.

      That has been the first official disclosure ever of the construction of a China-made aircraft carrier.

      However, Wang has given no information about the carrier: whether it is conventional or nuclear powered and whether there will be catapult to help taking off.

      Chinese military expert Li Jie believes that the new aircraft carrier will be bigger than the Liaoning with a displacement of 70,000 to 90,000 tons. It will be a conventional one without catapult so that it will be easier to build.

      He believes that Chinas third aircraft carrier will be bigger to carry more aircrafts and allow the installation of a catapult.

      Another expert Du Wenlong also believes that Chinas first homegrown aircraft carrier will be a conventional one.

      Previously CSIC (China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation) said in December 2013 that it had received two super shipbuilding contracts.

      Since 1985, China has acquired four retired aircraft carriers for study, the Australian HMAS Melbourne and the ex-Soviet carriers Minsk, Kiev and Varyag.

      HMAS Melbourne (Majestic-class)

      Minsk aircraft carrier (Kiev-class)

      Kiev aircraft carrier (Kiev-class)

      Liaoning aircraft carrier (Kuznetsov-class)

      Future Carrier

      Source: news.ifeng.com Liaoning Provincial Party Secretary confirms Chinas homegrown aircraft carrier is being built in Liaoning to be completed in 6 years

      China building second aircraft carrier: Report

      AFP Jan 18, 2014, 05.41PM IST


      BEIJING: China has started constructing the second of four planned aircraft carriers, a top government official said according to media reports on Saturday.

      The ship is under construction in the northeastern port of Dalian and will take six years to build, the reports said quoting Wang Min, Communist Party chief for Dalian's Liaoning province.

      The country's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was completed in September 2012 in a symbolic milestone for the country's increasingly muscular military.

      Another two are in the pipeline, according to Wang, in a projection of power that could be seen as contradicting Beijing's long-stated policy of arming itself strictly for self-defence.

      When the Liaoning went into service, Beijing and Tokyo were locked in a territorial row over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea which China also claims and calls the Diaoyus.

      The row continues to simmer, along with other sovereignty disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam.

      Early this month a Japanese newspaper said China was overhauling its military structure in order to strengthen its attack capability and secure air and naval superiority in the South China and East China seas.

      The Liaoning carrier conducted its maiden mission in the South China Sea in January.

      It followed an incident in December in which a US warship was forced to avoid a collision with a Chinese naval vessel, prompting Washington to accuse China of being the aggressor.

      Insider Photos of Chinese Aircraft Carrier Liaoning (Source: China.org.cn)

    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      J-15's Buddy Centerline Refueling Store

      January 4, 2014

      Here is one potential solution to the challenge of limited takeoff weight and range of Short take-off but arrested-recovery (STOBAR) carrier borne aircraft -- Give them a “hard point mounted fuel pod with a hose-and-drogue system” (a.k.a buddy store) This arrangement allows carrier borne aircraft to increase their combat range as well as their take-off weight without the need of a dedicated tanker support.

      Judging from the following public release photos of China’s Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark, such a buddy store is available to the Chinese Naval Aviators, assuming that they have mastered the mid-air refueling techniques of course. Given the fact that the J15 is based on the Russian SU-33, the Shangyang buddy store bears resemblance to the UPAZ-1A Sakhalin centerline refueling store series currently available in the international arms market.

    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      Hagel Tours China's New Aircraft Carrier

      April 7, 2014

      Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is welcomed by Sun Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, upon his arrival Monday at Beijing International in Beijing.

      U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel got a rare tour Monday of China’s first aircraft carrier, becoming the first foreign visitor to go aboard the ship, according to Chinese leaders.

      But in a speech planned for Tuesday, Hagel will point to cyber as an example of an area where the U.S. would like the Chinese to be more transparent, said a senior U.S. official who was not authorized to talk publicly about the speech in advance of its delivery and therefore spoke only on grounds of anonymity.

      Hagel arrived in Beijing Monday after a stop in Japan, where he told reporters that China must be more open about its military buildup and better respect its neighbors — a pointed reference to Beijing’s ongoing territorial dispute with Japan and others over remote islands in the East China Sea.

      The official acknowledged that the U.S. officials recently met with Chinese leaders and shared some broad information about America’s fundamental cybersecurity policies and how the U.S. approaches the challenges in cyberspace. The Chinese, however, have so far refused to reciprocate, and have rebuffed U.S. efforts to gain more clarity on China’s cyber operations.

      U.S. intelligence and defense officials have long complained about the persistent, aggressive cyberattacks against U.S. government agencies and private corporations that emanate from China.

      And Hagel, during unusually forceful remarks on his visit to Japan, drew a direct line between Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region and the ongoing territorial disputes among China, Japan and others over remote islands in the East China Sea.

      Calling China a great power, he added that “with this power comes new and wider responsibilities as to how you use that power, how you employ that military power.”

      U.S. officials on Monday said the tour of China’s aircraft carrier was a good first step toward building better relations with the Chinese.

      “The secretary was very pleased with his visit today aboard the carrier Liaoning,” said Pentagon press secretary Adm. John Kirby. “He understands how significant it was for the PLA to grant his request for a tour, and he was impressed by the professionalism of the officers and crew. He hopes today’s visit is a harbinger for other opportunities to improve our military-to-military dialogue and transparency.”

      A senior official said that Hagel and a small number of his staff spent about two hours on the ship at Yuchi Naval Base. Hagel received a briefing about the carrier, and then toured its medical facilities, living quarters, flight deck, bridge, and flight control station. He also had refreshments with junior officers in the dining area.

      China spent a decade refurbishing the derelict Soviet-era carrier bought from Ukraine before commissioning it as the Liaoning in 2012. It moved to Qingdao in February 2013 and is part of a major expansion of the Chinese navy that includes sophisticated new surface ships and submarines.

      The U.S. defense official said the ship is not as fast as a U.S. aircraft carrier and doesn’t carry as many aircraft. The official also said the Chinese military leaders agreed that they still have much to learn about naval aviation, and how to operate fighter jets and other aircraft off a navy ship.

      Hagel earlier this year had asked to see the ship, and a few weeks ago the Chinese agreed.

      Early this year the Liaoning completed sea trials in the South China Sea. The official Xinhua News Agency said the carrier tested its combat system, conducted a formation practice and “attained the anticipated objectives.”

      On Dec. 5, early in the Liaoning’s trial run, one of the Chinese ships accompanying it was involved in a near collision with a U.S. Navy cruiser, the USS Cowpens, when it was operating in international waters in the South China Sea. U.S. Navy officials said the Cowpens maneuvered to avoid the collision, but it marked the two nations’ most serious sea confrontation in years.

      At the time, a Chinese media report said the U.S. ship got too close to the Liaoning.

      Hagel is on a 10-day trip to the Asia Pacific region and is scheduled to meet with senior Chinese leaders before traveling to Mongolia, then returning home.
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Companion Threads:

      Hillary: We 'Welcome China's Rise'

      7:26 PM, Jan 31, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER

      In a farewell speech today at the Council on Foreign Relations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear that we, the United States, "welcome China's rise." Clinton is expected to step down from her current perch tomorrow, and John Kerry will take her place.

      Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

      "The Pacific is big enough for all of us," said Clinton, "and we will continue to welcome China's rise if it chooses to play a constructive role in the region. For both of us, the future of this relationship depends on our ability to engage across all these issues at once."

      Clinton continued that "That's true as well for another very complicated and important region, the Middle East and North Africa. I've talked at length recently about our strategy in this region, including in speeches at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Saban Forum and in my recent testimony before Congress."

      And she suggested her helm as head of the State Department has been successful. "So let me just say this: There has been progress. American soldiers have come home from Iraq. People are electing their leaders for the first time in generations, or ever, in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. The United States and our partners built a broad coalition to stop Gadhafi from massacring his people. And a cease-fire is holding in Gaza. All good things, but not nearly enough."

      Regarding China, President Obama has said something similar in the past. "We welcome China's rise," said Obama in 2011 standing next to China president Hu Jintao at the White House, according to CBS. "I absolutely believe that China's peaceful rise is good for the world, and it's good for America."
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      China's Aircraft Carrier Trouble: Spewing Steam and Losing Power

      'Liaoning' shut down during recent sea trials

      October 22, 2014

      There’s no more of a conspicuous and potent symbol of China’s growing naval power than the aircraft carrier Liaoning.

      But the 53,000-ton, 999-foot-long carrier could be dangerous to her crew and prone to engine failures. If so, that makes the vessel as much of a liability as an asset to Beijing.

      The ex-Soviet carrier once went by the name Varyag until a cash-strapped Ukraine sold the ship to Beijing in 1998. The Chinese navy has since invested considerable resources into modernizing the warship and testing her at sea.

      But on at least one occasion during recent sea trials, Liaoning appeared to suffer a steam explosion which temporarily knocked out the carrier’s electrical power system. The failure, reported by Chinese media site Sina.com, resulting from a leak in “the machine oven compartment to the water pipes.”

      We’re only able to glimpse at the carrier’s engine problems, as we know very little about what’s inside the ship. This includes even what kind of engines Liaoning has.

      The Chinese government also doesn’t like to admit to problems with its military hardware. When it does—and that’s never guaranteed—the admissions often come months or years after problems come up.

      During the accident, hot water and steam began “spewing” out of the engine’s oven compartment, Sina.com reported. One cabin became “instantly submerged in water vapor,” the report added.

      The crew immediately evacuated the cabin, with one officer apparently pulling a sailor out by his collar to save him from the extremely hot steam. The carrier then lost power, but the crew “eventually restored power to ensure the smooth operation of the ship.”

      Fortunately, this doesn’t appear to have been a catastrophic boiler failure of the kind that would unleash almost instantaneously lethal, high-pressure steam. It’s possible Liaoning instead suffered a low-pressure steam release involving a faulty heat exchanger. Vessels commonly use heat exchangers to control water temperature necessary for regulating internal power and heating.

      The Chinese navy began modernizing the ex-Varyag in 2005—essentially rebuilding the carrier from the inside. New electronics, self-defense anti-aircraft guns and new engines were just some of the upgrades. The warship in her unimproved condition was a “basket case,” an unnamed officer told the Website.

      Engine failures are not an unknown phenomenon aboard ex-Soviet carriers. The 40,000-ton displacement Indian carrier Vikramaditya—first a Soviet Kiev-class carrier commissioned in 1987 and sold in 2004—temporarily shut down at sea after a boiler overheated two years ago.

      The 50,000-ton Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov also goes nowhere without a tug escort in case her engines break down while underway.

      The Chinese navy isn’t going to get rid of Liaoning any time soon. She’s Beijing’s first serviceable carrier and the ship is a valuable resource for naval flight operations. Even if China never sends her into battle, she’s useful for training and learning how carriers work.

      But powerplant problems can also make it so China can do little else. Failures can add costly repairs, shorten the vessel’s lifespan and force her to crawl along the water at slow speeds. Beijing also lacks large overseas naval bases—a necessity if trouble arises while Liaoning sails far from China’s shores.

      If she ever does. Liaoning is more alike to its ex-Soviet cousins than different—confined to home ports and restricted from challenging rivals like India.

      “Since China began to send navy convoys on anti-piracy missions to the Gulf of Aden and the Somali coast in 2008,” military analyst Liu Zhongmin wrote in Global Times in 2010. “The lack of overseas bases has emerged as a major impediment to the Chinese navy’s cruising efficiency.”

      Now add the possibility of engine problems.
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -
      Some raw footage of the Chinese doing carrier ops on the Liaoning.

      They do look like they've got an idea of what they're doing...
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      Naval Air: Liaoning Preparing To Be The Real Thing

      August 24, 2016

      Chinese state controlled mass media have been doing a lot of stories this year about the new Chinese aircraft carrier force. This is seen mainly for frightening the neighbors because carrier aviation experts are still waiting for key indicators of Chinese progress in developing carrier warfare capability. The items that have not happened yet include key stuff like launching long range combat missions and have aircraft take off and land on a carrier in rough weather. Other missing items are Z-18 helicopters operating from a carrier while carrying out early warning or anti-submarine missions. The sole Chinese carrier has also not been seen operating with its full complement of 36 aircraft (fixed wing and helicopters) yet. That may be the result of not enough J-15 fighters manufactured yet. That may also be the case with the existing specially equipped helicopters like the Z-18J for AEW (Airborne Early Warning, using a large onboard radar) and the Z-18F for ASW (anti-submarine warfare using dipping sonar and lightweight torpedoes). China is aware of these shortcomings and the Chinese Navy appears to be assembling the entire Liaoning air group and preparing to take it to sea before the end of 2016.

      In 2013 China revealed that the Liaoning Carrier air wing would eventually consist of twelve helicopters (four Z-18J early warning, six Z-18F anti-submarine and two Z-9C search and rescue) and 24 J-15 jet fighters (navalized Su-27s). None of these aircraft have been seen together yet, which is needed to complete the Liaoning air group. The Z-18F is the first Chinese made anti-submarine helicopter that works (at least on paper). It is described as a 13 ton naval helicopter that carries a dipping sonar, 32 sonobuoys and up to four light (235 kg/517 pound) anti-submarine torpedoes. The Z-18F is too heavy for most Chinese warships and will be used on Chinese carriers and large amphibious ships (that look like small carriers). The Z-18F appears to be a major upgrade to the earlier Z-8F, which was not acceptable. The Z-18J is equipped with a radar that can spot aircraft out to 150 kilometers. The Z-9 is four ton helicopter with a two ton payload. China has built over 200 of the Z-9s and many have been armed (with twin 23mm cannon, torpedoes, anti-tank missiles and air-to-air missiles.) The Z-9D, armed with four TL-10 missiles, while the Z-9EC simply has anti-submarine equipment installed instead. The Z-9C is an unarmed version of the Z-9EC. Both the Z-18 and Z-9 are based on French helicopters that China has long produced under license.

      In March 2016 China revealed more details about their new, locally built, aircraft carrier. The existence of this ship was only made official at the end of 2015. The new carrier will indeed be a new design but it will also be based on the Liaoning, first Chinese carrier that was a rebuilt Russian ship. Liaoning is a 65,000 ton, 305 meter (999 feet) long ship that is actually a modified version of the last Cold War Russian carrier design. China also confirmed that the new carrier would also have the ski jump deck like Liaoning. The navy revealed that the new carrier would be “more than 50,000 tons” and incorporate new design features that would enable it to carry more aircraft (mainly the J-15) in a larger hanger deck (just below the flight deck) as well as more fuel and aircraft weapons. The new carrier will be non-nuclear and apparently at least the same size as the Liaoning but incorporate design features that will make it more capable of surviving combat damage as well as operating more efficiently and effectively as a carrier. In addition to the Chinese built J-15 fighter the new carrier will also have some early-warning radar aircraft as well as some anti-submarine aircraft as well as some helicopters. China still won’t reveal how many carriers is plans to eventually build. Apparently they are going to wait and see how the design of the second carrier works, make necessary modifications and then build another two to five. Since carriers spend a lot of time in port getting upgrades and maintenance you need three or more in order to guarantee having at least two available at all times for operations. The first Chinese built carrier appears to be largely completed but won’t be ready to enter service until 2018 or later.

      Recent revelations about the new carrier were not a total surprise as there had been reports that a large aircraft carrier was under construction in northwest China (Dalian) since 2013. One of the best sources of information on Chinese warship construction is the Internet. Thousands of Chinese naval buffs living close to major shipyards provide a steady supply of photos on the web. The Chinese government tried to prevent this but since 2005 came to realize that cracking down on enthusiastic and Internet savvy Chinese fans of the navy was not a wise move. A lot of important secrets are still preserved by building parts of ships in a shed and a lot of the most valuable military secrets are with equipment installed inside the ship or behind a wall. So the government allows all (with a few exceptions) these photos to appear.

      Then there are some interesting official photos. In mid-2014 photos of a carrier model being displayed at an official event appeared on the Chinese Internet. The detailed model had the hull number 18 and the ship looked similar to an American CVN (a Nimitz class nuclear aircraft carrier). The Chinese CVN has four catapults and three elevators and much other evidence of being nuclear and very similar to the Nimitz class.

      This is not what was thought to be under construction at Dalian but rather a proposal for carrier number three or four or whatever. The first Chinese carrier, the Liaoning is hull number 16 and the 2013 photos showed sections of a new Chinese carrier under construction. This ship would probably have hull number 17. All this implied that the third Chinese carrier, the second one built in China, would be nuclear and probably closer in design to the recently decommissioned American USS Enterprise (CVN 65). This was the first American nuclear powered carrier and it served as the prototype for the subsequent Nimitz class. The Enterprise was an expensive design, and only one was built (instead of a class of six). While a bit longer than the later Nimitz class, it was lighter (92,000 tons displacement, versus 100,000 tons). The Enterprise was commissioned in 1961, almost 40 years after the first U.S. carrier (the Langley) entered service in 1923. That is the kind of last success that the Chinese like to emulate.

      Chinese are keen students of history, their own as well as that of others. Chinese ship designers know all about the Langley (the first American carrier) and the Enterprise. The Chinese are also well aware that in the two decades after the USS Langley there were tremendous changes in carrier aviation. While the innovation slowed after World War II, major changes continued into the 1950s (jet aircraft, nuclear propelled carriers, SAMs). But in the ensuing half century there has been no major innovation in basic carrier design. This has not been a problem because the carriers have proven useful, at least for the U.S. Navy (the only fleet to use such large carriers) and no one else has maintained a force of these large carriers. Only the U.S. has felt a constant need to get air power to any corner of the planet in a hurry. More importantly, no navy has been able to give battle to the U.S. carrier force since 1945. The Soviets built new anti-carrier weapons and made plans to use them but that war never occurred. China is building carriers but does not yet seem committed to having a lot of them to confront the U.S. but rather just a few to intimidate its neighbors.
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      Foreign Media: China's First Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Nearing Completion

      August 19, 2016

      Airbus Defence and Space imagery captured on 11 August 2016 shows significant activity related to Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy projects at Dalian Shipyard, including the assembly of the country's first indigenous aircraft carrier (CV), the Type 001A, and the production of Type 052D guided-missile destroyers (DDGs), the Jane’s Defense Weekly of Britain said on its website on August 17, 2016.

      According to the report, the imagery shows that, with the addition of the bow section and other exterior components, the assembly of the Type 001A CV is nearly complete.

      Two of the component fabrication areas adjacent to the dry dock are largely clear of materials, indicating that work on the Type 001A hull is nearing an end, said the report.

      Additional components awaiting installation relate to the superstructure. Two modules, consisting of portions of the forward and aft sections of the superstructure, can be seen in one of the component fabrication areas, according to the report.

      Apart from sections of deck plating, which remain uninstalled to facilitate access to internal areas, the superstructure is the final significant external feature awaiting installation. The presence of superstructure modules suggests installation could occur in the near term, the report added.

      The article is abstracted from a report on the website of Britain’s Jane's Defense Weekly. The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and don't represent views of the China Military Online website.
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      China's First Aircraft Carrier Now 'Combat Ready', Say Chinese Media

      November 16, 2016

      The People's Liberation Army Navy's (PLAN's) first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, is ready for combat operations, according to Chinese media reports.

      Senior Captain Li Dongyou, the political commissar of the Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class carrier, was quoted by the state-owned Global Times newspaper on 14 November as saying that "as a military force, we are always combat ready and our combat capacity also needs to be tested by war. At this moment, we are doing our best to promote our strength and use it to prevent war. But we are preparing for actual combat at any time".

      The 60,000-tonne Liaoning, which was acquired from Ukraine and commissioned in 2012, had been regarded as a ship for training and development rather than an operational asset, making this the first time the carrier has been formally described as being ready for combat.

      In August Chinese state television broadcast images of Liaoning carrying eight Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-15 fighters as well as a Z-18 and a Z-9 helicopter on its deck.

      This represented the largest number of aircraft seen on the country's only operational carrier, which first conducted flight operations in November 2012.

      The footage prompted Chinese media comments that Liaoning was exhibiting "growing combat capability". During a 4 August TV programme PLAN Rear Admiral Yin Zhou said that Liaoning could carry up to 20 aircraft.

      While China has developed the Changhe Z-18J airborne early warning (AEW) and Z-18F anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters, these have yet to be seen together with the J-15 on Liaoning. These aircraft could form a full air-wing for the carrier.

      As IHS Jane's reported in August, Liaoning is only known to have conducted short-duration missions mainly in the Bohai and Yellow Seas: largely in support of its primary naval aviation training mission.

      The carrier has so far completed only one 'distant' deployment: from its northern base to Hainan Island's Sanya naval base in late 2013, which was also the only time it has been seen sailing with destroyer and frigate escorts.

      China's Aircraft Carrier "Combat Ready"

      Almost two decades after buying the hull from Ukraine in 1998, China's sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, has finally been declared combat ready

      November 17, 2016

      Almost two decades after buying the hull from Ukraine in 1998, China's sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, has finally been declared combat ready.

      China's aircraft carrier, as well as the rest of its rapidly modernizing navy, puts Beijing in an elite club with the greatest naval powers in the world.

      The development has raised eyebrows in the Pacific and globally, as China ignores international law, builds and militarizes artificial islands in the South China Sea, and threatens and bullies its neighbors.

      In the slides below, see how China's Liaoning stacks up to other carriers worldwide:

      This is China's only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. Like much of China's military hardware, the Liaoning is a reworking of an older Russian-made model.

      The Liaoning docked at Dalian Port, in Dalian, Liaoning province, in 2012.REUTERS/Stringer

      The Soviet style of carrier, which Russia and China still use, has a different purpose than the US's flat top carriers. Instead of being a truly global strike carrier, these carriers make more sense for coastal defense.

      The Liaoning's particulars and capabilities sound impressive.

      Source: Jeff Head

      Over the last four years, China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) had to build up carrier operations out of nothing. It has never operated an aircraft carrier before, so it faced a steep learning curve.

      J-15 Flying Shark aircraft on the Liaoning's deck.Global Times via Zhang Kai

      The Liaoning launches planes off a "ski-jump" style deck because it lacks the catapults that US carriers have.

      Two J-15 Flying Shark aircraft sit on the Liaoning's ski-slope platform.Global Times via Zhang Kai

      This means that the J-15 Flying Shark aircraft that take off from the Liaoning can't carry as much fuel or as many bombs as the US's carrier based planes can. This greatly limits their range and effectiveness in combat.

      But while the planes must travel light, the Liaoning boasts a heavy arsenal of its own.

      The Liaoning launches a Flying Leopard missile.Global Times via Zhang Kai

      China has announced building at least one other carrier. Here satellite imagery reveals the second carrier will have a modular design, but still conform to the ski-jump" mold of the Liaoning.

      A second carrier on par with the Liaoning would arguably make China one of the world's largest aircraft carrier power.Stratfor / Digital Globe

      Source: Business Insider

      The Admiral Kuznetsov, which the Liaoning is based on, is Russia's sole aircraft carrier. The ships have the same size and speed, and they both feature the "ski-jump" platform.

      Russia's Admiral Kuznetsov.

      The Kuznetsov, currently carrying out its first combat deployment in the Mediterranean bolstering the Syrian regime, has a troubled past plagued with mechanical difficulties. Everywhere it sails, a tug boat accompanies it in case it breaks down, as was the case in 2012.

      Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier

      China's southern neighbor India operates two smaller aircraft carriers with a third in production, but they are more reliable. In 2014, the Liaoning experienced unexpected power failures while at sea.

      India's Vikramaditya aircraft carrier.

      For the past few years, the Liaoning has been designated a training vessel.

      Source: Business Insider

      China's eastern neighbor, Japan, has smaller "helicopter destroyers," or flat deck carriers that sport helicopters and short or vertical takeoff aircraft as well as heavy armaments and missiles.

      A Japanese Hyuga class sails in front of a US Nimitz class carrier.Public Domain

      Source: Business Insider

      But Japan has a trick up its sleeve. Japan recently launched a larger class of helicopter carrier, the Izumo class. Soon, these carriers will support the F-35B marine variant, which experts expect will provide unprecedented dominance in the air and seas.

      Source: Jeff Head

      But the US is the world's undisputed king of carriers. The USS Abraham Lincoln, one of the US Navy's 10 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, is larger and carries more planes than the Liaoning, and it features catapults to launch heavier planes.

      US carriers boast nuclear powered cores, so they can sail around the globe without being refueled or relying on tankers

      Pound for pound, US carriers don't carry as many weapons as their foreign counterparts, but they travel in strike groups, which include guided missile destroyers to defend them.

      The USS Abraham Lincoln Battle Group along with ships from Australia, Chile, Japan, Canada, and Korea steam alongside one another for a Carrier Strike Group Photo during RIMPAC 2000.

      Not pictured: submarines.

      Furthermore, the US is developing an even larger, more advanced class of aircraft carrier with an outsized power core to support weapons of the future like railguns and lasers.

      A Nimitz class aircraft carrier (top) compared to a Ford class (bottom).

      Click here for more information on the Ford-class carriers»

      Also, US carriers use a whole team of aircraft: Transport planes handle logistics; electronic warfare squadrons backup fighters; airborne warning and control planes (AWACS, like the E-2 Hawkeye pictured below) transmit huge amounts of targeting data from the sky; helicopters hunt submarines and move personnel.

      Other carriers boast fewer types of aircraft, and only the US operates carrier-based AWACS.U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class (AW) Jayme Pastoric.

      Click here for more information on US carrier operations and aircraft»

      To put things in perspective, this graphic shows the relative sizes of aircraft carriers from around the world.

      Note that the USS Gerald R. Ford pictured in this graphic is slightly larger than the USS Nimitz aircraft carriers that now operate in the US Navy, but both vessels displace 102,000 tons.FOX 52 via Wikimedia Commons

      And let's not forget that the US has more aircraft carriers than the rest of the world combined.

      * India's second aircraft carrier is not pictured in this graphic.globalsecurity.org
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      China's 1st Aircraft Carrier Carries out Live-Fire Exercise

      By The Associated Press
      BEIJING December 15, 2016, 11:23 PM ET

      China's first aircraft carrier battle group has carried out its first live-fire exercise, the Defense Ministry has announced.

      Dozens of ships and aircraft took part in the exercise "a few days ago" in the Bohai Sea in eastern China to test weapon performance and training levels, according to a statement posted Thursday on the ministry's website.

      China said last month that its aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was ready to engage in combat, marking a milestone for a navy that has invested heavily in its ability to project power far from China's shores.

      The carrier, destroyers and frigates carried out exercises covering air interception, sea-based attacks and air-defense as well as reconnaissance, early warning and anti-missile systems.

      China-developed J-15 fighters carried live ammunition and performed strike exercises, the ministry said. Footage on state broadcaster China Central Television showed fighters launching missiles and hitting targets, and one pilot wore a helmet with "SHOOT IT" written in English across the top.

      The Liaoning was commissioned in 2013 after being purchased as an incomplete hull from Ukraine more than a decade ago.

      China hasn't described specifically how it intends to use the Liaoning, but it is seen as helping reinforce China's increasingly assertive claims over almost all of the South China Sea, which is home to key shipping lanes, rich fishing grounds and a potential wealth of mineral resources.

      Five other governments claim the maritime space either in part or in whole, and the Philippines and Vietnam in particular have sought assistance from the U.S. and others in beefing up their ability to resist China, including its construction of seven islands by piling sand atop coral reefs.

    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      Analysis: Chinese Aircraft Carrier Program Progressing Substantially Into the New Year

      January 31, 2017

      China continues to make strides in its aircraft carrier program, with a number of milestones achieved in 2016 and looks set to make more in 2017.

      The country’s sole carrier, the refurbished Soviet-era Kuznetsov-class ship, now renamed the Liaoning, was declared “combat ready” in November by Senior Capt. Li Dongyou, the political commissar onboard the ship as it departed for a training cruise that included a stopover at the purpose-built pier at the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) base near Sanya on Hainan island on the edge of the South China Sea.

      The ship sailed with a battle group comprising of several PLAN destroyers, frigates and corvettes, while the Liaoning itself carried more than a dozen Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark carrier-borne fighters and several Harbin Z-9 and Changhe Z-18 helicopters onboard, including at least two Z-18J airborne early warning (AEW) helicopters.

      Meanwhile, the same shipyard at Dalian that refurbished the Liaoning is building China’s second carrier. Known for now as the 001A — the Liaoning was designated the Type 001 — the new carrier is broadly similar to the Liaoning and retains the ski jump for launching aircraft, but contains a revised flight deck arrangement and other differences.

      The superstructure of this carrier has been attached to the main hull, and it is expected that this ship will be launched later in 2017. Recent satellite photos of the PLAN air base near Huludao in China’s Liaoning province have shown that one of two simulated carrier decks painted on the runway for pilots to practice carrier landings has been modified sometime between June and October 2016, most likely to reflect the arrangement of the 001A’s flight deck.

      The air base is where the PLAN’s J-15s are based when not deployed at sea. China has already built more than 20 production J-15s, with the 21st production aircraft operating off the Liaoning during its recent deployment. Two production batches of J-15s have been completed so far, with the first aircraft of the third production batch having recently been completed.

      China has already built more than 20 production J-15s, with the 21st production aircraft operating off the Liaoning during its recent deployment.

      The use of the short takeoff but arrested recovery (STOBAR) method of launching and recovering fast jets on both Chinese carriers will, however, curtail combat utility by limiting the range and payload of its aircraft and precluding the operation of larger aircraft such as AEW or carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft.

      The limitations of STOBAR have prompted China to continuing to pursue the development of catapults for launching its carrier-based aircraft. Satellite photos of the air base at Huludao show that China has constructed two parallel catapults, and analysts tell Defense News that it appears one of the catapults is an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System while the other is a conventional steam catapult, based on satellite photos of the inside of the catapults during construction.

      Construction of the catapults was completed sometime between June and October 2016, with a satellite photo published by DigitalGlobe in mid-October showing a J-15 preparing to line up on one of the catapults. A photo of a PLAN J-15 with what appears to be a catapult launch bar on its nose wheel — used to couple the aircraft to the catapult of the carrier during the launch sequence — had surfaced the month before, adding further weight to the evidence that PLAN intends to switch to catapult-assisted takeoff but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) aircraft operations onboard its future carriers.

      China has built two land-based catapult systems at a PLAN base near Huludao, Liaoning province. It is believed they became operational by October 2016.

      The construction of both types of catapults at Huludao suggests that China is exploring both technologies and has yet to decide on which type of catapult it will install on its future carriers. Chinese state media reported in 2014 that the country had reverse-engineered a land-based replica of the steam catapult and landing system from the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, which had been sold for scrap to a Chinese company in 1985.

      Rear Adm. Song Xue, then-deputy chief of staff of the PLAN, had already confirmed as far back as 2013 that China would build more carriers that would be larger and with more aircraft-carrying capacity than the Liaoning. The first of these carriers, tentatively designated the Type 002, is expected to be able to conduct CATOBAR operations.

      Andreas Rupprecht, author of three books on the Chinese aircraft industry and military aviation, told Defense News that in addition to the launch of China’s second carrier later this year, 2017 will likely see “more lengthy and intense exercises by the Liaoning and J-15s, as well as the likelihood that we will see a second J-15 regiment established with aircraft from the third production batch”.

      In late January, a mock-up of an AEW aircraft was photographed at the full-scale aircraft carrier training deck and island mock-up at the Wuhan Naval Research Institute facilities near Huangjia Lake, Wuhan. The photo showed the mock-up of a twin turboprop, four vertical-tailed aircraft with a large dorsal radar rotodome, similar to the Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye used by the US Navy.

      The Wuhan facility is used by the PLAN to carry out static tests of new platforms and systems; it usually serves as a good indication of future PLAN shipbuilding and platform plans. A prototype of a similarly configured AEW aircraft, based on an actual Xian Y-7 turboprop and designated JZY-01, has existed since 2011, although this is not believed to have ever flown and it is unknown if the recently seen mock-up is related.

      Some pics of the AEW aircraft mentioned:

    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      2nd Carrier Almost Complete

      February 20, 2017


      China is close to completing its second aircraft carrier, which will begin service by 2020, experts said.

      China Central Television (CCTV) reported that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's Type 001A class aircraft carrier's scaffold has been removed and red undercoat has been painted below the ship's waterline in Dalian, northeastern Liaoning Province, and that a launching ceremony will soon be held.

      "Unlike the Liaoning(Type 001), China's first aircraft carrier, a refitted ship built by Ukraine (under the former Soviet Union), the 001A is China-built, and its design, combat capability and technologies will be much more advanced," Song Zhongping, a military expert, told the Global Times.
      "One key difference is the design will be more 'humanized,' which means all personnel on the carrier will enjoy a more comfortable and modern environment," Song said.

      However, "there's still a long way to go from its launch to enlistment, which normally takes two years," Yin Zhuo, a senior researcher at the PLA Navy Equipment Research Center, told CCTV.
      Song said "its status can be compared to a house whose paint job has been completed but requires decorating, which, in military terms, is called the 'outfitting stage.'"

      It means all weapons and equipment, including the radar system, air defense system and communications system will be outfitted on the carrier. After this, the carrier and aircraft on it will be tested, and then the carrier will be ready to serve, Song said.

      "Construction of the aircraft carrier is on schedule. Most of its construction and design work has been completed. Its hull has already been assembled at the shipyard. The ship will soon be equipped with radar and other facilities," said Chinese defense ministry spokesperson Wu Qian in October 2016, in response to media inquiries on reported aircraft carrier images circulating online.

      A large amount of work remains to be done on the carrier's outfitting stage after it's launched, presumably sometime this year, Li Jie, a naval military expert, said. "It will take about one to two years to carry out functional debugging of its devices, weapons and equipment. The new aircraft carrier can begin sea trials by early 2019."

      Catapult technology

      On December 31, 2015 the Chinese defense ministry formally announced the construction of the 001A, and another spokesperson Yang Yujun said, "This carrier, with a displacement of 50,000 tons, will be the base for J-15 fighters and other types of aircraft."

      The design and construction of the second aircraft carrier is based on experience, research and training from the first carrier, the Liaoning, Yang added.

      Based on information released by the Chinese defense ministry, 001A's aircraft will still use the ski-jump method of taking off from a ski ramp on the front of the carrier just like its "sister," the Liaoning, rather than more advanced catapult technology used by US aircraft carriers.

      China is looking into catapult technology, Li said, and the technology will likely be adopted on the 002, China's third aircraft carrier, which is being built in Shanghai.

      "In other words, 002 is entirely different from the Liaoning (001) and 001A, and it will look like US aircraft carrier rather than a Russian one," Li said.

      Most advanced aircraft carriers use the Electromagnetic Catapult System, or Electromagnetic launcher (EML), to launch carrier-based jets, but China is still testing steam catapults, Li said. "The main difference is that EMLs are more flexible and the system's speed can be controlled, so it can launch aircraft of different sizes."

      Yin said "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."
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      China Launched Its First Aircraft Carrier

      April 26, 2017

      China launches its 1st home-built aircraft carrier
      China's first domestically built aircraft carrier is seen during its launching ceremony in Dalian, Liaoning province, China, April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

      China launched its first domestically-made aircraft carrier amid South China Sea tension

      China has transferred its first indigenously built aircraft carrier into the water, expanding its fleet to two such vessels. The ceremony, held amid heightened tensions in the region, almost coincided with the US deployment of THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea.

      The new carrier, which name is yet to be revealed, was launched on Wednesday morning in northeast China’s Dalian shipyard in Liaoning Province, Xinhua reported.

      The pride of China's naval engineering was transferred from dry dock into the water at a launch ceremony that started at about 9am at the Dalian shipyard of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp, the news agency noted.

      The new carrier is slightly larger than the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, constructed by the Soviet Union as a Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier and refitted by the Chinese. The new carrier weighs 70,000 tons and is 315 meters long and 75 meters wide, South China Morning Post reported.

      The carrier, however, is not expected to fully enter service until 2020, as it will reportedly take years to install all the equipment and conduct the necessary tests and trials.

      The launch of the new vessel which has been referred to as CV-17 comes amid renewed tensions between North Korea and the United States in the region amid Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

      Photos of the new vessel indicate that the ship has a ski jump and angled flight deck. Earlier reports also suggested that the ship’s hangars were built large enough to accommodate between 28 to 36 aircraft onboard.

      The new ship was rolled out on the same day that the US Army began installing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system onto a golf course in Seongju, South Korea, as a response to the North Korean threat.

      Beijing has repeatedly spoken out against THAAD over fears that it will undermine its own deterrence capabilities, and previously urged Seoul and Washington to reconsider their plans.

      - See more at: http://www.trunews.com/article/china....sCzLDu29.dpuf
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      New Carrier Under Construction

      June 19 2017

    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -
      Are they finally graduating to CATOBAR?
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      China To Likely Induct New Aircraft Carrier Ahead Of Schedule

      China’s first home-grown carrier could be delivered to the navy as early as the end of 2018.

      August 7, 2017

      The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) may induct its first indigenously designed and developed Type 001A aircraft carrier Shandong ahead of schedule, according to media reports.

      The new 65,000-ton warship, an improved variant of the PLAN’s only operational aircraft carrier, the 60,000-ton Type 001 Liaoning — a retrofitted Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class multirole aircraft carrier, could join the PLAN as early as 2018, two Chinese military sources revealed to the South China Morning Post last week.

      Based on previous reports, the PLAN anticipated a 2020 induction date. The new carrier is expected to serve in the PLAN’s North Sea Fleet or East Sea Fleet. One of the reasons for the likely earlier induction of the ship is better than expected test results of key systems of the carrier including the carrier’s propulsion system.

      “Steam turbines of [the carrier] will all start to formally enter the mooring test phase, which will be ahead of our schedule in overall progress,” Hu Wenming, general manager of the Type 001A project, said on state television last Thursday. Furthermore, according to images of the carrier circulating on the internet, equipment installation work on the Shandong has almost been completed.

      The Type 001A was launched in April at the Dalian shipyard in Liaoning Province by China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, as my colleague Ankit Panda reported for The Diplomat.

      Like its sister ship, the PLAN’s sole operational aircraft carrier, China’s new carrier will be able to accommodate up to 24 Shenyang J-15 multirole fighter jets, a variant of the fourth-generation Sukhoi Su-33 twin-engines air superiority fighter, as well as up to ten rotary wing aircraft such as Changshe Z-18, Ka-31, or Harbin Z-9 helicopters.

      The Shandong will be equipped witha so-called ski-jump assisted Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) launch system, rather than more advanced catapult-assisted launch system. This brings a number of disadvantages as I noted elsewhere:

      Given the STOBAR system, aircraft launched from the carrier will also have a more limited operational range due to the fact that they need to expend a considerable amount of fuel during take-off in comparison to aircraft launched with a catapult system as is the case in the U.S. Navy.

      In addition, aircraft launched with a STOBAR system usually also carry lighter armament, reducing the ship’s overall combat power. However, there is speculation that the PLAN’s next carrier, dubbed Type 002, will be using more modern catapult technology.

      The PLAN’s plans to field up to six carrier strike groups in the coming decades. Both the Liaoning and Shandong will likely primarily serve as test platforms for Chinese carrier-based naval aviation and technology demonstrators. Nevertheless, China has been stepping up its carrier activities in recent months. In July, the Liaoning entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) following a port visit to the former British colony of Hong Kong earlier that month.
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      PLA Navy to have at least 5 carriers: experts

      By Liu Xuanzun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/5 22:23:40

      To shift focus to offshore defense and open seas protection

      Citizens of Hong Kong visit the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning in Hong Kong, south China, July 8, 2017. A flotilla including China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning on Friday arrived in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) for a visit, during which Liaoning, for the first time, is open for the public to visit. (Xinhua/Qin Qing)

      The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy will operate at least five aircraft carriers in the near future, including the country's first two nuclear-powered ones that would likely be launched around 2025, Chinese military experts predicted on Wednesday.

      The remarks came after online discussions on how many aircraft carriers China needs, which were sparked by a WeChat article from the Xinhua News Agency on November 25, which announced the construction of the nation's third aircraft carrier.

      The PLA Navy will shift its focus from "offshore waters defense" to "offshore waters defense" with "open seas protection," and will enhance its capabilities for strategic deterrence and counterattacks, maritime maneuvers, joint operations at sea, comprehensive defense and support, according to China's Military Strategy released by the State Council's Information Office in 2015.

      Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, said that China needs at least five aircraft carriers to fulfill the strategic shifts.

      Wang Yunfei, a naval expert and retired PLA Navy officer, told the Global Times on Wednesday that China needs six aircraft carriers to ensure enough carriers are on active duty while the others are undergoing maintenance.

      Meanwhile, China's Ministry of National Defense has not yet revealed a plan for future carriers.

      Ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang said at a press conference in November that the development of China's aircraft carriers will be based on the country's overall plan.

      The plan includes China's comprehensive national strength and shipbuilding capabilities, experts said.

      The Liaoning and the Type 001A, which use a ski jump ramp to launch aircraft, will mainly remain in offshore waters near China, Song said. A third one, which will likely use an electromagnetic catapult, will go further into open seas and lay the foundation for the operations of two nuclear-powered carriers to protect China's global interests.

      Wang echoed that China will develop two nuclear-powered carriers, but he said China's fourth carrier will remain conventionally powered, before making the fifth and sixth ones nuclear-powered.

      Song expected China's first nuclear-powered carrier to be launched around 2022-24, while Wang predicted its launch ceremony in 2026.

      The goal of having five to six aircraft carriers will be reached by 2030-35, experts said.