Third Chinese Navy carrier rumoured to begin construction this year
Fresh off the press…
It has been well accepted that the first domestic carrier (001A) will be a ski jump (STOBAR) carrier similar to CV-16 Liaoning. However in the last few years it has also been persistently rumoured that the second domestic carrier (002) will be a catapult (CATOBAR) carrier, with construction to begin sometime after 2015.
Recent rumours in the past 24 hours, seem to suggest that initial construction for the 002 CATOBAR carrier will definitively occur in 2016, likely meaning initial steel cutting.
Aircraft carrier 002 is expected to be built at Jiangnan Changxing shipyard — this is the same shipyard where construction of the 052C and 052D destroyers took place and are taking place, as well as where the 055 class destroyers are expected to be first constructed. Aircraft carrier 001A is being constructed at Dalian shipyard, and is being assembled in the same drydock where Liaoning was initially refitted. Jiangnan Changxing had also previously built a demonstration module of what looked suspiciously like a small sized section of an aircraft carrier, possibly with the purpose of illustrating its industrial and design expertise for the Navy.
A now famous picture of a tabletop model for the Jiangnan Changxing greenfield shipyard from the mid 2000s also show an aircraft carrier under construction in a dry dock (apparently designated dry dock number four, and it is here that aircraft carrier 002 is expected to be constructed.
Details of aircraft carrier 002 are currently scarce. It is highly expected that it will be equipped with catapults, but the number of catapults and the type (steam or electro-magnetic) are not known. It is said to displace between 60,000 and 70,000 tons, but whether that is the ship’s standard displacement or full displacement is not known either.It is also not known as to whether it will use the same steam turbine propulsion as is expected on 001A, or if it may leverage a more modern type of propulsion such as integrated electric propulsion.
However, if steel cutting for 002 will indeed soon begin, the first physical signs of construction and assembly may emerge in late 2017 or early 2018, with the ship possibly launched before 2020.
Needless to say, the expectation of a carrier will make Jiangnan Changxing an even more closely followed site for Chinese military watchers than it already was.