Home » Aviation » Officials Confirm Construction of First Domestic Chinese Aircraft Carrier


Officials Confirm Construction of First Domestic Chinese Aircraft Carrier

Undated photo of Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning. PLA Photo

Undated photo of Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning. PLA Photo

China is in the midst of building its first domestic carrier, Ministry of National Defense officials confirmed last week.

During a press conference, spokesman Col. Yang Yuju told reporters construction was underway.

“After taking into account a range of factors, the relevant authorities launched work on developing a second aircraft carrier, and we are now undertaking our own indigenous design and construction,” he said, according to a translation of a Chinese language transcript of the Dec. 31 press conference.
“We have a long coastline and a broad maritime jurisdiction… Defending national maritime security, and safeguarding sovereignty over territorial seas and over maritime rights and interests, are sacred duties of China’s armed forces.”

Follow on reports from Chinese state-controlled press said the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) new carrier was to field its Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark – an unlicensed copy of the Russian Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker – displace about 50,000 tons and retain the short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) configuration of its Soviet-era carrier test platform – Liaoning.

The decisions the Chinese made in their new carrier point to a measured approach to the new ship – Type 001A.

“Compared with China’s first carrier… the second carrier will have more mature technology and performance, with better coordination between its systems,” wrote China’s state controlled Xinhua news wire.

From the information released by Chinese media, the carrier will be mostly similar to the Kusetnov-class template of Liaoning and absent a catapult launching system.

An undated photo of Chinese J-15 fighter in tests aboard Liaoning. PLAN Photo

An undated photo of Chinese J-15 fighter in tests aboard Liaoning. PLAN Photo

“Future Chinese carriers will be fitted with catapults for fighter jets to take off on deck, but the process will be gradual since catapult take-off involves more complex technology,” wrote Xinhua.
The details of Type 001A confirms months of speculation and analysis around construction of a ship in a dry dock in China’s Dailan shipyard.

The construction of the ship resembled the builds of Soviet Kuznetsov-class carrier, reported Jane’s in September – a ship with a beam of 115 feet and a length of 866 feet.

Jane’s stopped short of declaring the ship the Type 001A but several experts confirmed to USNI News in September the ship was China’s first domestic carrier.

The unexpected confirmation of the Type 001A follows China’s irregular efforts of transparency in its military acquisition.

Buried in its 2010 Ocean Development Report, China declared it would pursue development of its own domestic carrier program. It took six months for the detail to make it into the Western press.

Two years ago, a Chinese party official declared construction of the first domestic aircraft carrier already underway with an eventual goal of four PLAN carriers but those comments were quickly scrubbed from state press.

A four-carrier force would mimic traditional carrier deployment patterns in which there are three carriers in maintenance or workups for every carrier deployed.

  • John

    Who cares. It will be several decades before the Chinese master the operational aspects of a carrier battle group. These articles are all chest beating promotions for the military to increase their funding for pet projects.

    • @USS_Fallujah

      I think the PLAN CV program is pointed less at the USA, Japan or Taiwan & more at sub-peer nations like Vietnam, The Phillipines, Indonesia & Singapore.
      The A2/AD network of ASBMs, SSN/SSKs w/ ASCM, etc is intended to raise doubt among these nations of the USN’s willingness to risk loss to intervene in a regional conflict, and a PLAN CBG would allow the PRC to bring the fight straight to their neighbors doorstep. Thus they can intimidate those nations into capitulate to PRC deamand on borders, exclusion zone, trade disputes, etc.

      • old guy

        Ya kiddin me. They plan to annex Taiwan in the next 10 years, with the USA backing out. Their plan is almost EXACTLY the plan that the Japanese had in 1937, only they are starting out with 1.2 billion people instead of 100 million. If you don’t believe this pull up some video of chinese 2nd grade student training.

        • John

          Jeez. Your tinfoil hat is rather on tight.

          • old guy

            You sound like Sen. Taft in 1937. I suggest that you read,” Dr. SEUSS GOES TO WAR>” for some insight.

          • John

            You take your cues from the man who wrote Dr Seuss books? I mean his political cartoons were just that.

            China will not annex Taiwan by force in the next ten years. Unless, of course, America comes up with some idiotic pretext to calve it off under some self determination cover. America fought a vicious civil war over a self determination matter.

            China bark is worse than its bite.

            Whoopee do. We can blast them back into the stone age and they know it.

            All this stuff is really none of our friggin business. We will not appreciate China poking around, let’s say Cuba, and we shouldn’t be poking around their backyard.

            I’m concern the Japanese will goad us into doing their dirty work and suck us into a morass there that will be far far worse than anything in the Middle East or Afghanistan we have experienced.

          • old guy

            You had better read up on geopolitics again (if ever). China is the epitome of the “Great Depth, Great population,paradigm.
            You are just foolish or silly if you believe what you write.

          • John

            Fear mongering. Yeah. Great yellow peril. The real peril is us.

          • old guy

            AHA, another USA hater drops his guard. GOTCHA!!!
            As king Richard pronounces in Mel Brooks’, “History of the World, Part One, “Henceforth, all toilets shall be known as “JOHN”.

          • John

            Really? You are what is wrong with this country. This country at one time was admired. It was a moral leader. We are now doing all the wrong things. We are being manipulated by vested interests of Defence Contractors, Wall St Bankers who finance said Defence Contractors, Big Oil who profit from the wars in the Middle East and elsewhere.

            You believe all the BS fed to us the last 30 years under the guise of freedom and democracy. We have all been conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs.

            So, tell me, how many Goldman Sach’s bankers went to prison? You know, Goldmans, the guys who sold junk derivatives (and knew about it – from their internal emails) that cause the 2008 fiscal meltdown causing tens of thousand of average hard working people to lose their homes and life savings.

            Yeah. China bad. Russia bad. Arabs bad. Wasn’t it our big business laying off hundreds of thousands of our people and move the work to China? Yeah. Big business that fund the politicians. Doesn’t matter who is President. They all going to do Wall Street’s bidding. They all support the Defence Contractors. They all will pick fights and start wars. Gotta sale weapons you know.

            Obama is in the back pocket of the Crown family of Chicago. They are the biggest shareholder of General Dynamics. Lester Crown took Obama under his wing at 27. The two families are tight.

            General Dynamics builds the Predator Drones. Obama pulls troops and ramps up drone program. Guess who benefited?

            The Virginia class subs, the Arleigh class destroyers are built by General Dynamics including the new Zumwalt Destroyers and aircraft carriers. Guess who benefits if a war breaks out with China?

            At the start of Obama first year in office, General Dynamics was a 10 B company. Under policies that Obama favored and promoted, General Dynamics has now grown into a 30 B company.

            Yeah. Open your eyes old man.

          • old guy

            When are ya’ leavin’. Where ya’ goin’?

    • muzzleloader

      I wonder if the Americans had the same sentiments of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the late 1930’s…

      • old guy

        Our Japanese fleet assessment of 1940 (the year the ZERO was developed) rated their fleet as “barely adequate, but improving. Read, “AT DAWN WE SLEPT.”

      • John

        Can’t compare the two eras. The Japanese were already blowing things up and chopping off heads across Asia in the 30’s. Their military had combat experience.

        The Chinese are just paper tigers. No combat experience. Crap training program. Shoddy equipment. They may have equipment that look like our stuff but it’s an illusion. The quality of their stuff is garbage.

        It’s like having a real blonde versus a bottle blonde.

        The Chinese aren’t fighters. Seriously. Their on field combat tactics really suck.

        And the big thing is that China and the US are joined at the hip economically. It will hurt China multiples of bad versus the US if war ever breaks out.

        Think about it.

        • Secundius

          @ John.

          The Japanese had Secret’s, that even the Nazi’s weren’t aware of. Japanese Steel was far Superior to German Krupp Steel. Japanese, invented 7075 Aluminium in 1934. While the American’s were STILL using 6061 Aluminium. The Japanese, even had a Atomic Bomb program that started in 1934. And created Two Uranium U-235 Atomic Bombs in 12 August 1945…

        • Darkside

          Oh, you SEEM to have great insider knowledge. Are you a respected military adviser that great world powers defer to? Or merely a self-glorifying armchair expert sprouting nothing but super-heated steam?

  • Michael Nunez

    Russian Design , Russian Jets , and now U.S. Catapult Technology ……. , pure Chinese…. , ya .

    • sferrin

      No catapults. Did you even read the article?

      • Michael Nunez

        I stand Corrected …. . That Technology is Way Too Advanced for China’s-Plan , or they have not stolen it , yet. Good Call …. .

        • old guy

          The Chinese are FAR more sophisticated, technically, than we credit them. It reminds me of the attitude toward the Japanese in 1935 and the North Vietnamese in 1967. These are SMART, technically advanced, people who are capable of making your TV, Smartphone or Fusion weapon system.

          • You are perhaps right about how the average American or even Europeans think of them. The days of cheap tin toys from Taiwan are gone. They have successfully copied and redesigned modern automobiles, now they are working on affordable electric cars and of course, they copied our stealth jets.
            it’s more about innovation with the Chinese. Just because hundreds of years ago they were known for creating/inventing stuff doesn’t translate to the modern Chinese ethic. They copy and improve, much like their Japanese counterparts–but don’t tel them that! They don’t like ANY comparison to the Japanese.

  • Hugh

    Defending national maritime security, and safeguarding sovereignty over territorial seas and over maritime rights and interests, are sacred duties of China’s armed forces.” They unilaterally claim most of the South China Sea, they do not recognise other countries’ 200 nm economic exclusion zones, and they refuse to recognise the international court. Sounds like pirates, dangerous pirates. Or maybe Germany 1939 or Japan 1941!

  • disqus_zommBwspv9

    It is a very impressive program. And while it takes us almost 5 years to build an LHA and 10 years for a CVN. I would not be surprise if this Carrier is. in the water within 2 to 3 years. When I see comments insulting the ability of the Chinese navy, It reminds me of those people that consisted spotting reports from Amphibs and Supply ships as amateur guesses.

  • publius_maximus_III

    So, I guess my biggest question is, why will their first domestically-built full-size carrier be a ski slope design, instead of a catapult design? I assume they already learned from their Russian-built ski slope carrier that fighters taking off without any missiles is not much of a deterrent.

    Send us some more of those containerized freight ships stacked ten high so we can fund another one for you…

    • @USS_Fallujah

      I assume they are thinking Step 1: Buy & rehab USSR CV Step 2: Reverse Engineer said CV to test domestic shipbuidling/design capability Step 3: Create and build a domestically designed CV. Step 3 may or may not incorporate move to Cat/Trap depending on how Step 2 goes.
      The PLA/N/AF love to prototype, tinker, redesign and re prototype before going to full production. It takes a lot longer to do that with shipbuilding that missiles & aircraft, but the philosophy seems to transcend platform types.

  • sferrin

    50,000 tons? I’m guessing they’re saying that so as not to freak out their neighbors. It will be 65,000 -80,000 tons – at least.

    • disqus_zommBwspv9

      I think they mean the 3rd and 4th Carriers will be in the 65 to 80,000 ton range

      • sferrin

        Who means? Nobody said anything about 3rd or 4th carriers. I’m saying this one, the 2nd one, will be much more than 50,000 tons.

        • disqus_zommBwspv9

          in the article future Chinese carriers with cats, plus I got from a Washington post article that the Chinese could be looking at a four carrier fleet at least.

          • old guy

            Are you THE reader of the Washington COMPOST? I wondered who he was.

    • old guy

      You are right on. 70+K tons, non-nuc propulsion, electric catapults, STOL A’C complement, some armament. They do have an ETC gun program that can match their time line.
      The jump deck shots were with NO fuel aboard, I bet

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  • PolicyWonk

    We’ve known about this for quite a few months now. The only difference, is that the Chinese now admit it openly.

    Nothing new here, folks – move along.

  • DWinslow

    According to Wikipedia the current carrier Liaoning seems very formidable. It deploys 36 aircraft and 12 supersonic anti-ship missiles. It has 19- 30mm CIWS systems and a total of 326 SAMS. Quite impressive for a 50,000 ton carrier.

    • sferrin

      Liaoning doesn’t have the anti-ship missiles, it’s 65,000 tons, and doesn’t have anywhere near 326 SAMs. Jesus, just about everything, I take that back, EVERYTHING you said is wrong.

      • @USS_Fallujah

        I only hope he was talking about a CBG centered on the Liaoning, but I’m feeling very forgiving today.

    • Secundius

      @ DWinslow.

      What’s Impressive About It? At Best the 36 Strike/Fighter can do, is a WW2 “Doolittle” Raid. Carrying only enough to GET and STAY Airborne…

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  • Secundius

    It looks like NOW, that the Royal Navy’s QE and PW class Medium Aircraft Carrier’s are Over-Sized 70,000-ton Gator-Freighters. Approximately 900 Royal Marines, plus a 250 Aircrew are going to be Billeted on both ship’s…

  • I lived five years in mainland China, and I had the good fortune to know a brilliant Scot who was an armchair military history buff. He printed out some info on Chinese Navy and Air Force on occasion, and gave me some great insight. First off, the Liaoning was a GUTTED Soviet carrier, old and obsolete by modern standards. The Chinese bought it and spent YEARS getting it “up to snuff”.
    For them to now attempt making modern carriers remains to be seen. Remember, the Chinese don’t INVENT, they COPY.

    • old guy

      Don’t underrate them. Think of gunpowder, rockets, iron tempering, spaghetti and Peking Duck.

  • disqus_zommBwspv9

    Question, why is there 2 RBU 12000 mounted on the Chinese Liaoning? To use as an anti torpedo measure. Or against submarines that penetrate the ASW screen

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