CVAN 003 aircraft carrier
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 05 December 2018. 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 05 December 2018 that China needed 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.
Minnie Chan writing for the South China Morning Post [SCMP] on 27 November 2019 reported "... plans for a fifth have been put on hold for now, according to military insiders. They said that technical challenges and high costs had put the brakes on the programme... one of the key obstacles is in the development of a new generation of carrier-based fighter jets. “China doesn’t possess the nuclear technology required, although it has developed many nuclear-powered submarines,” said the source, who added that developing a reactor for use on a large warship is more challenging than making one for a submarine.... tests of the electromagnetic catapults used to launch the J-15, China’s only carrier-based fighter, had yet to meet the required standard."
This story came amidst reports that the third carrier, namely the first locally designed big-deck carrier, was under construction and would be delivered within a few years. Without respect to the reporter, the clear intent of the reporter's sources was "dont worry, be happy" seeking to allay anxiety provoked by the rapid buildup of Chinese seapower. In the long sweep of a complex multi-year project such as an aircraft carrier, to say that plans "have been put on hold for now" is nearly meaningless. The "technical challenges" of the notional CV-003 would not seem to represent too much of a leap beyond the CV-002, which was a great leap over the CV-001 medium carrier. China's naval buildup does not otherwise seem constrained by "high costs".
The "development of a new generation of carrier-based fighter jets" was cited as "one of the key obstacles". For some years now, China has been flying both the J-20 [first flight in 2011] and the J-31 [first flight in 2012]. As of 2019, neither had been observed in association with land based carrier actitivites, though the J-31 [still a work in progress] was frequently featured in aircraft carrier artwork. A schedule mis-match of a few years between an aircraft carrier and its primary combat aircraft would not be out of the ordinary. In the Royal Navy, the new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth was commissioned on 07 December 2017. On 30 June 2016 the first of Britain's new F-35B Lightning II supersonic 'stealth' strike fighters touched down in the UK for the first time. By the end of 2019, the second carrier, Prince of Wales, had be commissioned, but F-35B operations were not anticipated until 2021 at the earliest.
Turkey began the construction of a new multipurpose amphibious assault ship called the TGC Anatolia in January 2016. Turkey's procurement of the Russian S-400 missile defense systems prompted the U.S. administration to suspend Ankara's participation in the F-35 joint program in July 2019. This leaves Turkey without a clear path towards providing a fixed-wing combat capability for this ship. Turkey will thus be alone in having a large amphibious assault ship with no fixed wing aircraft.
The source maintained that "China doesn’t possess the nuclear technology required .... developing a reactor for use on a large warship is more challenging than making one for a submarine." A Chinese nuclear powered aircraft carrier would probably require a new power reactor, but Chinese industry is surely adequate to the task at hand. Such a reactor would probably need to be several times more powerful than existing submarine reactors, but contrary to the SCMP source's claim, reactors for surface vessels prsent less of a challenge than submarine, reactors, since the surface vessel does not confront the space limitations inherent in a submarine design.
US media reported that China has developed the 003 nuclear powered aircraft carrier. China's new aircraft carrier hinted at the future of the country's navy, according to a report published on the website of the Popular Science magazine published in the United States on 12 January 2017. China will develop fourth aircraft carriers, that is, the type of nuclear powered aircraft carrier, by the year of 2030. The 003 aircraft carrier displacement would be about 100 thousand tons, with a fleet of 70 to 100 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. It would have a number of aircraft elevators and a large ship island.
With a nuclear reactor, the 003 aircraft carrier can reach speeds of more than 30 knots. Taking into account China's interest in unmanned vehicles, 003 aircraft carriers may be equipped with unmanned aerial vehicles, used to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The 003 aircraft carrier fleet will be equipped for anti submarine warfare and search and rescue helicopter.
The ship will use the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier as the standard, installing nuclear power and electric propulsion system, equipped with electromagnetic catapult and the fourth generation of advanced aircraft. The overall combat effectiveness would reach the world's most advanced level. In January 25, 2017, broadcast on CCTV CCTV10 channel "2016 annual science and Technology Festival" program, the naval power engineering expert Ma Weiming, said the latest research progress we are most concerned about the situation of the electromagnetic launch technology, said the electromagnetic launch technology, will replace the traditional chemical technology in ten years. The exciting news that is being developed in the design of 003 aircraft carrier type electromagnetic launch is a foregone conclusion.
The aircraft carrier battle group escort ships may include 055 destroyers and a future Chinese frigate. The improved type 055 destroyer will have an integrated electric propulsion system to enhance the ability of the ship to generate power for sensors and directed energy weapons. In addition to carrying helicopters, the ship may also be equipped with more than 100 long-range air defense and ground attack missiles. Considering the Chinese of unmanned vehicles in the Navy, these ships may carry unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) and unmanned surface vehicle (USV), to deal with mine. As for underwater escort, escort submarines may be type 095 attack submarines. Compared with the current Chinese attack vessels, the submarine stealth performance is better and more sophisticated equipment.
From type 001 to type 003, China would have 4 aircraft carriers in 2025 In 2025, it is estimated that China's fourth aircraft carrier type 003 will be launched into service. By then, China will have at least 4 aircraft carriers.
China planned to have by 2049 - the Centenary of the founding of the PRC - completed construction of 10 aircraft carriers.
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