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Aircraft Carrier Project Phase 2
Construction Planning Factors

In the United States, the four units of the 60,000 ton CV-59 Forrrestal class were built in two shipyards at a rate of one unit commissioned each year [that is, two year intervals per yard]. The first eight units of the 90,000 ton CVN-68 Nimitz class were built at one shipyard, commissioned at a rate of one every three years. The units of the CVN-78 Gerald R. Ford class are being built at a rate of one every five years, but this sedate pace is dictated by the replacement rate for ships with a half-century srevice life.

China has at least seven shipyards with berths large enough to built an aircraft carrier. When completed in 2015, the Changxing base was the largest shipyard in the world with annual shipbuilding capacity reaching eight million tons. China was said to have plans to build medium-size aircraft carrier in the Jiangnan Shipyard - Changxing Island. An aircraft carrier project would require about one percent of the yard's capacity, so raw shipyard capacity is not the limiting factor on the rate at which China's aircraft carrier fleet grows.

It will be recalled that one of the things that made HMS Dreadnought figtehningly revolutionary was the fact that it was built in two years, much faster than prevailing practice. If one woman can make one baby in nine months, nine women would need how long to make one baby?

The limiting factor on China's aircraft carrier buildup is probably not shipyard capacity, but the rate at pilots and other crew teams can be trained in carrier operations, which might prover rather time consuming. Another factor is Chinese intent, which is un-knowable.

In 2008 Major General Qian Lihua, a senior official with the ministry of defence, seemed to accept speculation that China was planning to build an aircraft carrier. "The question is not whether you have an aircraft carrier, but what you do with your aircraft carrier," he said. But he said a unlike that of "another country", a Chinese carrier fleet would only be used for defence. "Navies of great powers with more than 10 aircraft carrier battle groups with strategic military objectives have a different purpose from countries with only one or two carriers used for offshore defence," he said. "Even if one day we have an aircraft carrier, unlike another country, we will not use it to pursue global deployment or global reach."

It is not possible to assert the quantity of China's aircraft carrier that are scheduled to be built. It seems likely that there would be at least one ship in each of the three fleets in the North Sea, Tokai and Nankai, as well as a fourth ship for maintenance float. Once building is underway, there is the possibility over time of two ships per fleet, for a total of six vessels. If this happens, the number of aircraft carriers in the Chinese Navy would be on a par with the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

According to reported plans, China would have three aircraft carrier battle groups. Projections by this reported plan, the first one will be added to the East China Sea Fleet aircraft carrier ranks, and in the end of 2015 before the formation of formation combat capability; second aircraft will join the South China Sea Fleet aircraft carrier combat sequences, and in the end of 2016 before the formation of the initial combat capability. In this way, together with the North Sea Fleet of the "Liaoning" aircraft carrier, the Chinese navy fleet will have a three aircraft carrier battle groups, and all entered the era of the aircraft carrier.

For many years China's aircraft carrier shipbuilding plans remained unknown outside China, and in some regards are probably unknowable even to the PLA Navy itself. One former PLAN officer believed that China will eventually have three or four carrier groups, with one operating at any given time. Du Wenlong, a research fellow at the PLA Academy of Military Science, says China should deploy at least that amount. With three carriers, one is always available for operational missions, while the second is used for training and the third is resupplied and retrofitted.

Similarly, Li Jie said, “Ideally, there will be three or more aircraft carriers, even five or six.” Chinese state-connected media have speculated that China will eventually need at least three aircraft carriers in all. Another view goes that China should deploy three carriers in the East China Sea, South China Sea and waters in the north respectively. The fleets for each of those areas should build a carrier task force, while the Liaoning should be used for day-to-day training. An article appearing in Russian media in February 2014 said that China plans to introduce four carriers, including the Liaoning.

On 28 June 2005 China's reported that China will begin to build its first aircraft carrier in August 2005 at a cost of 30 billion yuan (about US$362 million). The report said the carrier will be built by the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai. This was denied by Zhan Guangqin, deputy chief of China's Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense. It claimed that the carrier will start construction in 2006 at the earliest and that it will take two more years to combine the operations of the vessel with those of jet fighters to form a combative force. Weapons experts, however, pointed out that it seems "too optimistic" to build an aircraft carrier in just one year and to develop a battle group in three years.

China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning ex-Varyag held its first sea trial on Wednesday, 10 August 2011. At that time Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo, an aircraft carrier specialist with the PLA Navy, told CCTV it would take three to 10 years to train enough pilots to form a carrier fighter squadron.

The 2016 Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China reported that "In 2015, the PLAN’s first aircraft carrier, LIAONING, certified its first cohort of domestically trained J-15 operational pilots. The air wing is expected to deploy on the carrier in 2016.... Although it possesses a full suite of weapons and combat systems, LIAONING will probably continue to play a significant role in training China’s carrier pilots, deck crews, and developing tactics that will be used with later, more capable carriers."

On the aircraft carrier construction time of the law, we can from the aircraft carrier's course analysis, draw a general conclusion. Russian Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, started in February 1983, December 1985 launched, which lasted 3 years. Kuznetsov's sister ship Varyag number, started construction in 1985, launched in 1988, the construction time of 3 years. Look at other countries, the construction process of large aircraft carriers, we will find that most of the 6 to 9 million tons of aircraft carrier construction time is about three years. China's first domestic aircraft carrier began construction in Dalian, and was expected to early 2017 water, but also more than three years time.

If, according to General Jin Yannan, China's second domestic aircraft carrier was started in Jiangnan Shipyard in March 2015, then a reasonable launching time should be at the end of 2018 or early 2019.

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Page last modified: 03-03-2017 19:25:51 ZULU