Shanghai’s Changxing Island Shipyard, already home to both conventional-submarine and civil production, now appears to be preparing to construct China’s first indigenous aircraft carrier. Internet and satellite photos have emerged of a hull module whose limited dimensions suggest that it represents a cost-controlled demonstration of relevant construction capabilities. Its configuration may foreshadow improvements on China’s first aircraft carrier, the refitted ex-Soviet Liaoning. While this particular module may never be incorporated directly into an initial homegrown flattop, whose construction is unlikely to be rushed, China’s naval shipbuilding has become proficient at modular construction. China’s military shipbuilders already use modular construction techniques at Jiangnan Shipyard for Type 052-series destroyers, at Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard for the Type 071 amphibious vessel, and in at least four shipyards for the new Type 056 corvette—which itself was reportedly preceded by a demonstration module at Hudong-Zhonghua. Now these latest photos raise important questions: how capable is China’s military shipbuilding industry, and what can it actually deliver? …
For a comprehensive analysis of Chinese deck aviation development, see Andrew S. Erickson, Abraham M. Denmark, and Gabriel Collins, “Beijing’s ‘Starter Carrier’ and Future Steps: Alternatives and Implications,” Naval War College Review 65.1 (Winter 2012): 14-54.
Recent analysis of a key developmental milestone is available here: Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, “China Aircraft Carrier Style! Assessing the First Takeoff and Landing,” China Real Time Report (中国实时报), Wall Street Journal, 27 November 2012.
For a video presentation, see Andrew S. Erickson, “Chinese Aircraft Carrier Update,” presented in “Session 1: Developments in Aircraft Carriers,” at “Maritime Security Challenges (MSC) 2012” conference, Maritime Forces Pacific, Canadian Navy, Victoria, Canada, 2 October 2012.
For other recent analysis, see Andrew S. Erickson and Gabriel B. Collins, “The Calm Before the Storm: China’s About to Find Out How Hard it is to Run an Aircraft Carrier,” Foreign Policy, 26 September 2012.
Click here for another recent assessment concerning Liaoning that references statements by important PLAN-affiliated experts: Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, “Introducing the ‘Liaoning’: China’s New Aircraft Carrier and What it Means,” China Real Time Report (中国实时报), Wall Street Journal, 25 September 2012.
For further background on Chinese aircraft carrier development, see also:
Historical highlights from articles listed below, offered in Andrew S. Erickson, “China’s Ministry of National Defense: 1st Aircraft Carrier “Liaoning” Handed Over to PLA Navy,” China Analysis from Original Sources, 25 September 2012.
Explanation of naming in Andrew S. Erickson, “China Will Name its First Aircraft Carrier ex-Varyag “Liaoning”: PRC State Media Portal,” China Analysis from Original Sources, 10 September 2012.
Coverage of the ex-Varyag’s sea trials offered in Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, “China Realizes Carrier Dream,” The Diplomat, 10 August 2011.
The longer report on which that post is based is Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson, “China’s ‘Starter Carrier’ Goes to Sea,” China SignPost™ (洞察中国) 43 (9 August 2011).
An early assessment of the larger implications of China’s deck aviation development offered in Abraham M. Denmark, Andrew S. Erickson, and Gabriel Collins, “Should We Be Afraid of China’s New Aircraft Carrier? Not yet.,” Foreign Policy, 27 June 2011.
Relevant defense industrial factors discussed in Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson, “LNG Carriers to Aircraft Carriers? Assessing the potential for crossover between civilian and military shipbuilding in China,” China SignPost™ (洞察中国) 12 (18 December 2010).
For analysis on aircraft that may eventually fly off China’s aircraft carrier, see Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson, “‘Flying Shark’ Gaining Altitude: How might new J-15 strike fighter improve China’s maritime air warfare ability?,” China SignPost™ (洞察中国) 38 (8 June 2011).
For related analysis on drivers and constraints concerning Chinese deck aviation, see Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson, “The ‘Flying Shark’ Prepares to Roam the Seas: Strategic pros and cons of China’s aircraft carrier program,” China SignPost™(洞察中国) 35 (18 May 2011).