The Shanghai’s corona virus lockdown has slowed China’s shipbuilding plans and has affected the launch of the country’s new Type 003 aircraft carrier. The People’s Liberation Army Navy had been widely expected to launch the third aircraft carrier around the Navy’s 73rd anniversary on April 23. However, the launch plan is affected by the rampant pandemic in Shanghai which delayed the transport of some key components. The Construction of Chinese Type 003 aircraft carrier has been under way at the Jiangnan Shipyard on Shanghai’s Changxing Island since 2017 and was expected to be ready for launch early this year. Recent satellite image showed that construction of the nearly 320-metre-long platform is almost completed. As shown in the photos, covers have been put over the vessel’s three catapult launch systems indicating they are ready, but the two elevators to lift aircraft from the carrier’s hangars have not been fitted fully. The P L A Navy was planning a major launch for the third aircraft carrier at least on a par with the one in 2017 for the Shandong being the first aircraft carrier built in China. But it’s too risky and difficult to get too many people together in the limited space of an aircraft carrier given how contagious the Omicron variant is.
The new carrier would likely be named the Jiangsu, following the protocol of naming the vessels after coastal provinces starting from the north to south of the country. Unlike the two country’s two other aircraft carriers the Liaoning and the Shandong, the Type 003 has a flat-top flight deck to be equipped with three sophisticated electromagnetic catapults, similar to the world’s most advanced aircraft launch systems. It will be the first Chinese aircraft carrier to use a CATOBAR system and electromagnetic launch catapults. Presently, China is operating two aircraft carriers Type 001 Liaoning and Type 002 Shandong; both of them have ski-jump runways for aircraft takeoff and Stobar Type design for recovery. This design without catapults significantly limited the maximum take-off weight of Chinese Carrier based fighter aircraft J-15s and restricted the variety of its embarked air group. Experts believe that Type 003 will be the largest and most advanced aircraft carrier ever built outside the United States when completed. Official partner of VUGA Enterprises LLC Integrated Electric Propulsion, approximately 100000-TonType 003 super will have a similar size to the U.S Navy’s Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carriers. Renewed assessment indicated that its length is 320 meters and has a flight deck with a width of 78 meters. The aviation wing of Chinese future aircraft carrier will comprise of new twin engine stealth fighter which sometimes referred as J-35 or J-XY and the KJ-600 airborne early warning & control plane. The pictures of these two next generation aircrafts also surfaced last year in social media. Type 003 carrier would operate an air group of 40 fighter aircrafts, plus propeller-powered transport and airborne early warning and control aircraft.
Construction on the Type 003 super carrier began in the mid-2010s. Construction was reportedly delayed in June 2017 by EM and steam catapults tests. By November 2017, the Navy had reportedly developed an IEP system – in lieu of nuclear power – to power EM catapults, allowing work on the Type 003 to resume. The block modules were moved from the manufacturing facility to the staging area in May 2020, and into dry dock in July 2020. Almost all of the keel and base hull blocks were in the dock by early September 2020; the foremost part of the bow was missing. Measurements based on satellite and aerial photography suggested a hull/waterline length of 300 meters – nearly the flight deck length of China’s existing carriers and a maximum beam of 40 meters.
00:00 Launching of Chinese Type 003 aircraft carrier delayed
01:30 Design and Specification of Type 003 aircraft carrier
03:35 Construction history of Type 003 aircraft carrier
04:37 China’s Future Aircraft Carrier Plans
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This news story originally appeared at Aviation News - on 4 May 2022