China launches high-tech aircraft carrier at Navy milestone

Beijing (AP) — Beijing launched a new generation of aircraft carriers on Friday. This is the first such ship designed and built in China as a milestone in an attempt to increase the range and power of the Navy.

According to state media reports, the Type 003 aircraft carrier, named Fujian, left a dry dock at a shipyard on the outskirts of Shanghai in the morning and was detained at a nearby pier.

The state broadcaster CCTV has gathered Navy personnel standing under a giant ship as water jets are sprayed onto the deck of a giant ship, colorful streamers fly, and colorful smoke is emitted. I showed that.

The capabilities of the Type 003 aircraft carrier, equipped with the latest weapons and aircraft launch technology, are believed to be comparable to the capabilities of Western aircraft carriers as Beijing is already trying to transform the world’s largest navy into a multi-carrier unit.

Satellite images captured by Planet Labs PBC on Thursday and analyzed by AP communications show that carriers that look like completely flooded dry docks at Jiangnan Shipyard near Shanghai are ready for launch. .. It was covered with red bunting, probably in preparation for the launch.

“This is an important milestone for China’s military-industrial complex,” said Ridzwan Rahmat, an analyst at Singapore-based Defense Intelligence Agency Janes.

“This shows that Chinese engineers can independently build a complete suite of modern naval-related carrier-based ships, including corvettes, frigates, destroyers, amphibious assault ships, and now aircraft carriers.” He said. “This ability to build highly complex warships from scratch will inevitably bring various spin-offs and benefits to the Chinese shipbuilding industry.”

The first aircraft carrier in China was a reused Soviet ship, and the second aircraft carrier was built in China but was based on Soviet design. Both are built to employ the so-called “ski jump” launch method of aircraft, with ramps at the end of short runways to assist in the takeoff of aircraft.

Type 003 employs catapult launches, experts said, as if it were an electromagnetic system originally developed by the US Navy. China’s Xinhua News Agency confirmed in a report on its launch on Friday that Fujian has adopted an electromagnetic system.

Such systems are less stressful to the aircraft than older steam-type catapult launch systems, and by using catapults, they launch the wider variety of aircraft needed to enable China to project the Navy. You will be able to do it. A wider range of power, Ramat said.

“These catapults allow deployed aircraft to carry larger amounts of weapons in addition to external fuel tanks,” Rahmat said.

“Once fully operational, PLAN’s third carrier will be able to deploy a more complete aircraft suite related to carrier-based transport, airborne early warning and control aircraft, and the operation of carrier strike groups such as the KJ-600. . “

China’s PLA Navy (PLAN) has been modernizing for over a decade, becoming a “blue water” unit that can operate globally rather than being restricted to approaching mainland China.

At the same time, the United States is gaining more attention to the region, including the South China Sea. The vast waters are tense as the six governments claim all or part of the strategically important waterways. This channel carries an estimated $ 5 trillion in world trade each year, with abundant but rapidly declining fishing resources and significant submarine oil and gas deposits.

China was much more willing to claim claims for virtually the entire waterway, its island’s characteristics and resources.

The US Navy sailed warships through Chinese artificial islands built on the sea with runways and other military facilities. China claims its territory extends to these islands, but states that the US Navy is carrying out its mission there to ensure a free flow of international trade.

In a report to the US Parliament on China’s military power last year, the Pentagon said the aircraft carrier development program was important for the continued development of the Chinese Navy into a global force. It works over longer and longer distances. “

The Pentagon said China’s “aircraft carriers and planned follow-on aircraft carriers, once operational, extend their air defenses beyond the scope of coastal and onboard missile systems, enabling task group operations over longer distances. I will do it. “

In recent years, China has expanded its presence in the Indian Ocean, Western Pacific, etc., and in the past 10 years, the United States, Japan, etc. have also established their first overseas base in Djibouti, the Horn of Africa, which has maintained its military presence. Did. .. It has also recently signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands that could provide an outpost in the South Pacific and is cooperating with Cambodia to expand the port facilities that may exist in the Gulf of Thailand.

Xinhua reported that Fujian Province with hull number 18 had a full displacement of 80,000 tons. However, a March report produced by the US Congressional Research Service suggests that satellite imagery suggests that Type 003 aircraft carriers have a displacement of about 100,000 tons, similar to the US Navy’s aircraft carriers.

PLAN currently has about 355 ships, including submarines, and the United States predicts that it will increase to 420 by 2025 and 460 by 2030. It is a fleet of the US Navy and is far behind in aircraft carriers.

The US Navy is the world leader in aircraft carriers with 11 nuclear ships. There are also nine amphibious assault ships that can carry helicopters and vertical takeoff fighters.

American allies such as the United Kingdom and France also have their own aircraft carriers, and Japan has four “helicopter destroyers.” These are technically not aircraft carriers, but carry aircraft. The two have been transformed to support short takeoff and vertical landing fighters.

China’s new aircraft carrier is named after Fujian on the southeastern coast of the country, following the tradition of naming the first two aircraft carriers after Liaoning and Shandong.

The launching ceremony of the shipyard was presided over by Ryo Xu, a member of the political bureau of the ruling Communist Party and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission led by President and leader Xi Jinping.

Xinhua reported that a bottle of champagne broke across a Fujian bow after Xu cut the ribbon for launch. Then the dry dock door opened, the ship moved into the water and moored at the pier.

The development of Type 003 aircraft carrier by China is part of the broader modernization of the Chinese military. As with the space program, China is very careful in developing aircraft carriers and is only trying to apply the tested and completed technology.

At this point, China is not believed to have developed an aircraft to fully realize the potential of the new aircraft carrier, Ramat said.

It is unclear how close China is to the development of the KJ-600AWACS aircraft, which began testing in 2020, and whether it is ready for carrier-based operations, and “there is little evidence” that it has begun work on carrier-based transportation. Aircraft, he said.

Now that it’s on sale, you’ll need to install the carrier. This can take 2-6 months. After that, port acceptance tests and sea trials will take place, and it may take another six months for engineers to start launching test cargo using the catapult system.

“The first aircraft will probably only be launched from this carrier in late 2023 to 2024, and full operational capabilities are likely to be declared near 2025,” he said.


John Gambrel of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Mari Yamaguchi of Tokyo contributed to this report. Report of rise from Bangkok.