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Aircraft Carrier Project
Phase 2 - New Construction

China is designing and building its second aircraft carrier "completely on its own" in Dalian in northeastern Liaoning Province, a Defense Ministry spokesperson confirmed 31 December 2015. This carrier, with a displacement of 50,000 tonnes, will be a base for J-15 fighters and other types of aircraft, Yang Yujun told a monthly press briefing. Fixed-wing aircraft on the carrier will use a ski-jump to take off, he said. The design and building of this second aircraft carrier has been based on experience, research and training on the first carrier, the Liaoning, he added.

On 30 July 2015, huanqiu.com, the Chinese-language version of local Global Times, published an internal document of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation. The report states that the company’s “priority missions” are to build nuclear submarines and an aircraft carrier. It also mentions that progress on these projects has been steady.

“The priority missions of building the aircraft carrier and nuclear-submarines have been carried out smoothly and with outstanding results,” the document states, according to a translation provided by Taiwanese media outlets. The Taiwanese reports said that the document suggested that China’s first homegrown aircraft carrier may be nuclear-powered.

The 2013 Report To Congress Of The U.S.-China Economic And Security Review Commission reported in November 2013 that "China plans to follow the Liaoning with at least two indigenously built aircraft carriers. The first likely will enter service by 2020 and the second by 2025. As China’s aircraft carrier force expands and matures, Beijing will improve its ability to project air power, particularly in the South China Sea, and to perform a range of other missions, such as airborne early warning, antisubmarine warfare, helicopter support to ground forces, humanitarian assistance, search and rescue, and naval presence operations."

Similarly, in January 2014 media reported in China quoted Liaoning party Chief Wang Min as saying that work on China’s second aircraft carrier had begun in the city of Dalian, and Beijing is ultimately expected to build four aircraft carriers. These reports, however, were quickly removed by China’s censors.

The 2015 Report To Congress Of The U.S.-China Economic And Security Review Commission noted that, “China continues to pursue an indigenous aircraft carrier program and could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years.” The Pentagon report mentioned that China’s home-based carriers “would be capable of improved endurance and of carrying and launching more varied types of aircraft, including electronic warfare, early warning, and anti-submarine, thus increasing the potential striking power of a PLA Navy ‘carrier battle group’ in safeguarding China’s interests in areas outside its immediate periphery”.

In 1970 China conducted a study into the feasibility of building an aircraft carrier. China appeared to have chosen to build a Chinese aircraft carrier, rather than purchasing one off-the-shelf. Although China's long-term goal was to acquire one or more aircraft carriers and it had an active program to develop a design, for many years it remained unclear whether Beijing had reached a firm decision on the kind of carrier it would have, given budget constraints and naval funding priorities.

The PLA Navy would need to overcome several large obstacles before it could field an operational aircraft carrier and associated supporting ships. First, the PLA Navy did not initially have any carrier-capable aircraft. Second, although substantially improved in these areas, it still needed more and better anti-submarine and anti-aircraft capabilities to protect a carrier and its supporting vessels. Finally, to have adequate power projection capabilities from the use of a carrier, it was preferable to have more than one carrier so that a carrier was assuming the mission at sea at all times. Thus, many experts concluded that an operational aircraft carrier would not appear to be in China's near future, even though China was funding research and development and training officers in aircraft carrier operations.

According to the US Department of Defense's Annual Report to Congress on The Military Power of the People's Republic of China for 2010, "The PLA Navy has reportedly decided to initiate a program to train 50 pilots to operate fixed-wing aircraft from an aircraft carrier. The initial program, presumably land-based, would be followed in about four years by ship-borne training involving the ex-VARYAG-a former Soviet Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier-which was purchased by China from Ukraine in 1998 and is being renovated at a shipyard in Dalian, China. ... The PLA Navy's investment in platforms such as nuclear-powered submarines and progress toward its first aircraft carrier (a refurbished ex-Russian Kuznetsov-class carrier) suggest China is seeking to support additional missions beyond a Taiwan contingency.... Such an increased PLA presence including surface, sub-surface, and airborne platforms, and possibly one or more of China's future aircraft carriers, would provide the PLA with an enhanced extended range power projection capability and could alter regional balances, disrupting the delicate status quo established by the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea."

On 27 October 2014, the Liaoning returned to its home port in Qingdao after a half year of maintenance. In less than a year, the size of Liaoning's escort group grew from five ships to eight. During the trip China's CCTV revealed an image of the Liaoning battle group, in which the aircraft carrier was sailing with at least eight surface vessels and submarines in formation.

This was the first time that Liaoning appeared in public with its battle force, which experts say is open to changes in future. China deployed its first carrier task group in December 2013, when the Liaoning left its home port of Qingdao in East China's Shandong Province for the South China Sea. It was then escorted by two missile destroyers, two missile frigates, and a supply ship.

Made in China aircraft carrier battle groups require many sophisticated new ships together, regardless of their cost or operational capability, of course, will be substantially improved. However, just building aircraft carrier battle groups but also so that they have the combat capability, is the top priority of China's development of aircraft carriers.

The Type 054B main escort is a new frigate, which is to meet the needs of offshore operations. The Type 054A displacement is further increased the on the basis of the construction of the new generation of large missile frigate, but also to adapt to the Chinese Navy aircraft carrier battle group operations needs and design a types of ships, which will be mainly responsible for the aircraft carrier battle groups in the short-range air defense and anti-submarine missions. Therefore, it will significantly increase payload, precision radar electronic equipment will also undoubtedly substantial upgrade, making it cost to rise exponentially.

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Page last modified: 17-06-2022 18:08:32 ZULU