China on track to have six (6) carrier battle groups by 2035
The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of China is hard at work on their second Type 001A class aircraft carrier, CV18. It will use an electromagnetic aircraft launch system and displace somewhere on the order of 80,000-tons, making it the largest Chinese warship ever built and second only to a modern U.S. fleet carrier.
The PLAN has actually been in the carrier business in part since the mid-1970s, a dream realized in part when they picked up the retired Majestic-class light carriers HMAS Melbourne (R21) in 1984. Though she had a scant 868,893 nautical miles on her and was a mess, the Chinese slowly disassembled the WWII-design over a 15-year period and reportedly made extensive notes on her construction and steam catapult and landing systems as first steps towards their own carrier program. Reportedly, the Chinese Navy reverse-engineered a land-based replica of Melbourne‘s cat by 1987 and has used it in a series of trials of their own carrier-based aircraft.
The PLAN further compared the 1940s British carrier to that of the 1970s Soviet helicopter carriers Kiev and Minsk, purchased in the 1990s as floating amusement parks for tourists, to help with their own best practices in flattop construction moving forward. Then came the 67,000-ton Admiral Kuznetsov-class strike carrier, laid down as the Soviet carrier Varyag in 1985, and finally completed by the Chinese in 2011 as Liaoning after she was sold in 1998 by the Ukrainians as a floating casino (!).
China’s first locally built carrier, the Type 001A aircraft carrier or CV-17, a modified Kuznetsov based on the Liaoning improvements, was launched on 26 April 2017 and is fitting out with a completion date expected sometime around 2020 as the carrier Shi Lang. The yard reportedly is using lots of Ukrainian experts and a staff of 5,000 skilled shipbuilders.
Media reports from the country now say China plans to have up to six aircraft carrier battle groups in service by 2035, according to naval experts, with Liaoning, one or two new Type 001A class vessels, as well as nuclear-powered follow-on ships as the centerpiece.
That’s a pretty aggressive growth plan with lots of potential for failure, but you have to admit, it is starting to look like a whole new Pacific in the next generation.
Tags: casino ship, china carrier, chinese aircraft carrier, Chinese carrier planes, chinese CV, Flying shark, J-15, new china carrier, new chinese carrier, Russian carrier, Shi Lang, SU-33, Type 001A carrier, Varyag
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