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NEWCON Aircraft Carrier - Design

In early September 2003 the Harbin Technical University held its 50th anniversary celebration. Founded soon after the Chinese Communist revolution, Harbin had been deeply involved in PLA military technical research. As part of this celebration Harbin students produced a 1:100 scale model of a prospective aircraft carrier. Derived from the Kuznetsov design, novel features included the placement of anti-ship missiles, and the use of a new anti-aircraft missile similar to that on the new No. 170 air defense destroyer. Such a ship could eventually carry an air wing comprised either of navalized Shenyang J-11 or Chengdu J-10 fighters, plus Kamov helicopters for ASW or AEW missions.

Helicopters from a carrier could provide support to potential amphibious operations. Fixed-wing aircraft operating from a carrier could provide greater air defense over a potential beachhead. If China were to build or purchase an aircraft carrier, such an asset would enable it to provide increased air defense and support for amphibious operations.

Military observers in China suggested in January 2016 that the new Chinese aircraft carrier under construction was going to be quite different from the country's first vessel. Chinese officials, in confirming the construction of the new aircraft carrier, said its would ahve Chinese characteristics, based fully on Chinese needs and designs.

The new aircraft carrier is going to be run on a conventional power plant, and will be designed to accomodate the domestically-developed J-15 fighter jets. China's Ministry of Defense said the design of the country's second aircraft carrier has been made from the lessons and experience gleaned from the testing done on the "Liaoning." The "Liaoning" was China's first aircraft carrier. It is former Soviet-designed carrier purchased from Ukraine in 2012.

Cao Weidong with the Chinese Navy's Academic Research Institute says virtually everything on the new Chinese-designed aircraft carrier was going to be different from the "Liaoning." "It's going to have a brand new propulsion system, as well as an independently-designed hull that will be built with Chinese-developed special steel. There is no doubt that its interior structure will be totally different from the Liaoning's."

Cao Weidong says the new aircraft carrier is the latest step in China's establishment of a 'blue water' navy. "China's naval strategy has seen a significant change from inshore a defense strategy to escort missions on the high seas. The deployment of the new aircraft carrier will make the PLA navy more capable of conducting escort missions and and protecting waterways along the 21st maritime Silk Road."

The Chinese military observer also said the new aircraft carrier is going to be well armed. "Weapon systems, such as China's latest phased array radar, short-range anti-aircraft missiles and quick-firing cannons will be installed on the new ship. It's likely the new carrier is also going to have an upgraded communication system."

Cao Weidong said the launch of the new aircraft carrier will also give the Chinese Navy an upper hand when it comes to maritime disputes. It's expected the carrier will still employ a so-called "ski-jump" ramp to allow the J-15 fighter jets to take off.

The new type of China-made aircraft carrier must be equiped with fixed-wing carrier-based early warning aircraft, possibly the an early warning aircraft based on the Transport-7. The machine can be the same as the US E-2 for the Chinese to provide airborne early warning aircraft carrier fleet, and to provide long-distance carrier aircraft operations information support, will also have a strong electronic warfare capability.

According to China Aviation News, China's recently developed R0110 heavy gas turbine is capable of propelling medium conventional carriers. Technical complexity and safety concerns are the major drawbacks of nuclear carriers.

By mid-2016 China's land-based aircraft carrier mock-up in Wuhan, Hubei Province, was undergoing modifications. IHS Janes suggested that the changes were likely to reflect changes between China's first indigenous aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, which was being built at Dalian shipyard, and the next one to be constructed, commonly referred to as the Type 002. The ski-jump section had been removed from the mock-up, reinforcing expectations that China's third carrier will be equipped for catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) operations. The second aircraft carrier, now nearly complete, features a more sophisticated design than its predecessor, the Liaoning. According to Yin Zhuo, chairman of the consulting committee of the PLA Navy, the vessel will be able to carry more weapons, fighters, and fuel.

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Page last modified: 17-08-2016 17:27:03 ZULU