Has advanced China's aircraft carrier

China is building aircraft carrier number 2

China is continuing the geostrategic course of an evolving world power. A second carrier is under construction, admirals say there could be six in total.

Interesting, if not unexpected, news leaked on the sidelines of the People's Congress in Beijing: China's industry is building a new aircraft carrier for the fleet; it would be the second ship of its kind, as well as the first to be built in China alone. It would also be more highly developed than the current carrier, the "Liaoning", but would still be based on this in some areas.

The information comes from, among others, Admiral Liu Xiaojiang, a former political commissioner of the Chinese People's Navy, and Vice-Admiral Ding Haichun, a current political commissioner. As noted by the Chinese media, it was the first time that such high-ranking fleet officials spoke about aircraft carriers, and not only that: Liu indicated that China wanted to put six carriers into service, although this also depends on the available resources. Previous speculation had assumed four to five carriers, including two nuclear-powered ones.

Electromagnetic catapult

Another senior officer stated that China had tested a new launch system for porters many times with success; it's about an electromagnetic catapult. That would be a major technological step: Steam-powered catapults are used in aircraft carriers around the world that use catapults to launch aircraft (such as the "supercarriers" of the US Navy or the French "Charles de Gaulle"). Electromagnetic should only be installed in the future "Gerald Ford" class of the USA, the type ship of which should be put into service in a year. Electric catapults are more powerful than steam catapults; it was calculated that they enable 25 percent more starts per day with 25 percent fewer operating personnel; they consist of fewer parts, take up less space and generate up to 30 percent more energy, which enables even heavier aircraft to take off.

The retrofitting of the ten large US nuclear carriers of the Nimitz-class with such catapults was rejected because it would be too demanding: The new catapults need an enormous amount of electricity, which would overload the Nimitz-class nuclear reactors, it is said.

On catapultless carriers, including the Liaoning, aircraft take off with the help of "ski jump" systems, to put it simply over ski jumps. This lowers your possible take-off weight, so your armament and / or range. The above-mentioned Chinese officer therefore spoke of an expected "enormous increase" in the operating radius and load - with this one would technically catch up with the USA or even overtake it.

"The more carriers, the better"

When the second carrier would be ready, however, remained unclear. Admiral Liu, however, clearly rejected speculations in the West that this could be this year. But: "The more carriers, the better," said Liu.

The Liaoning is actually a Soviet ship whose construction as "Riga" began in the 1980s, but which was never completed due to the collapse of the USSR. At the end of the 1990s, a Chinese company bought the rustling ship that was anchored off the Ukraine and was then named "Varyag" and had it towed to China. At first it was said that the roughly 300-meter-long, empty 53,000-ton vehicle would serve as a floating restaurant and nightspot, but the company was actually backed by the military and so the Varyag soon officially ended up in the People's Navy, which it was in Upgraded the Dalian shipyard to a roadworthy carrier and put it into service in September 2012.

Since then, the Liaoning (it's the name of a province) has been on training and instruction trips, once there was also something like a "threatening trip" towards the Philippines because of territorial conflicts. This phase is unlikely to be completed before 2017, as the Liaoning actually serves more as a training ship than a combat ship. It is designed for at least 36 aircraft and helicopters, including 24 Shenyang J-15 "Flying Shark" fighter jets. However, so far only a few Chinese pilots have a carrier landing license (at the end of 2013 there were around five, see here).

Compared to the US Navy, the Liaoning is still quite unlikely, but this ship alone, with its reduced air component, gives China's navy a trump card over smaller fleets like those of Vietnam, Malaysia or the Philippines.

Path to global naval power

With the further expansion of its (carrier) fleet, China is consistently and geostrategically logically following the path of an up-and-coming world or sea power: Because it is ships of this type, including escorts of cruisers, destroyers, submarines and transporters, with which China is projecting power worldwide primarily in the Pacific, but also in the Indian Ocean and Atlantic, in the area of ​​Chinese interests also in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

With six ships, China would be by far the second largest carrier power today. There are around 40 aircraft carriers of all sizes in the world, including those that are well advanced in construction or that are in reserve and those that are essentially helicopter carriers. The USA as the number one sea power currently has ten “supercarriers” with 80 to 100 jets each and nuclear propulsion, two to six are in reserve, plus nine small carriers (“amphibious assault ships”) with conventional propulsion and mostly helicopters.

Only France's Charles de Gaulle is still nuclear powered and is also considered a large carrier, but at around 42,000 tons it is only half the size of the supercarrier in the USA and has only 28 to 40 aircraft. India's "Vikramaditya" is comparable in size, but operated conventionally with around 36 aircraft, while Russia's "Admiral Kuznetsov" has 41 to 50 aircraft.

Small carriers or amphibious assault ships with mostly helicopters on them operate in addition to France (three) and India (1), Great Britain and Japan (3 each), Italy and Spain (two each), Brazil, South Korea, Australia and Thailand (one each). However, this information is not complete and inaccurate, especially since numerous navies are currently introducing the said small amphibious assault ships - many of which have so few aircraft on board that it is unsure whether one should even count them. And it is precisely with such ships that China is heavily involved.

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