China postpones launching of third aircraft carrier
On May 31, Chinese media reported that Jiangnan Shipyard (Shanghai) is preparing to launch the third Type 003 aircraft carrier during the Dragon Boat Festival on June 3. However, the event has been postponed.
SCMP cites two sources close to the PLA as saying that a technical problem is likely to arise regarding the next stage of the shipbuilding process, which requires advanced equipment and technology.
On May 27, China’s Maritime Safety Administration ordered to clear docks 3 and 4 at Jiangnan Shipyard, Changxing, where the aircraft carrier is being built. Experts analyzing this announcement said that Jiangnan shipyard is preparing to launch a new aircraft carrier.
“The latest satellite image shows that the Type 003 has been blocked by a large structure so that passing commercial ships cannot see the construction progress.“, said Mr. Lu Li-shih, a former lecturer at the Taiwan Naval Academy.
According to Mr. Lu, this large structure needs to be moved to launch the Type 003 aircraft carrier. He added that the launching of the ship means the construction work is completed. The Type 003 also has to undergo equipment testing and installation.
“The carrier needs to be tested at sea as soon as possible. It may take several years to reach normal performance”, the source of SCMP said.
The Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, took six years to reach a basic level of combat readiness. Meanwhile, China’s second aircraft carrier (Shandong) has not yet reached the stage of combat readiness.
Unlike the two aircraft carriers Liaoning and Shandong, Type 003 has a flat flight deck equipped with three sophisticated electromagnetic catapults, similar to the most advanced aircraft launch systems in the world. Liaoning and Shandong have jump launch ramps, an older technology. All three are conventionally powered aircraft carriers, while China’s fourth is likely to be powered by nuclear reactors.
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