23 June 2014

Is This a Model of China’s Next [3rd Total, 2nd Domestically-Constructed] Aircraft Carrier?

Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer, Is This a Model of China’s Next Aircraft Carrier?” Eastern Arsenal Blog, Popular Science, 17 June 2014.

Photos of a potential new Chinese aircraft carrier class have surfaced this month at the Dalian Naval Exhibition Center. The photos depict a large carrier that would give China the type of large strike carrier capability currently possessed only by the US Navy. …

At the very least, it provides a sense of Chinese planning concepts for the future. Compared to the Lianoing (CV-16), the hull number of this new carrier is 18, which suggests that this carrier would be China’s second indigenous carrier, and the first of a truly new design (number 17 is believed to be a modified domestic variant of the Liaoning). The carrier is shown to have three aircraft elevators, two on the starboard (right) side and one on the port (left) side, and four catapults (possibly electromagnetic) to rapidly launch aircraft. This would give it a size and scale at least in the 80,000 ton range. Photos show that the model, presumably of the future “002” class, carrying J-15 fighters, Z-18 anti-submarine warfare helicopters and most interestingly, a JZY-01 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. While the JZY-01 would provide a carrier air wing with strong airspace detection capabilities, its large weight precludes from being launched off the ski ramp equipped Liaoning. CV-18 is depicted as defended against missile attacks by Type 1030 Close In Weapons Systems (CIWS) and HQ-10 short ranged surface to air missiles; presumably its escorting destroyers and frigates would take the lion’s share of air defense and ASW duties, pointing again to the building Chinese naval task force model of operations. As with the US Navy, Chinese carriers would be at the center of a formidable naval task force, including modern stealthy cruisers, destroyers and attack submarines geared to hunt air, surface, submarine and missile threats. …

Discussions on Chinese sites explore how the CV-18 could be launched in the mid 2020s, assuming that its predecessor, CV-17, is launched in the 2017-2019 timeframe. Going by construction of other similarly sized aircraft carriers, the construction of the CV-18 would take around 5-8 years, from the cutting of the first steel to completing the electronics and catapult outfitting. …   

For a survey of potential Chinese deck aviation development futures, see Andrew S. Erickson, “A Work in Progress: China’s Development of Carrier Strike,”Jane’s Navy International, 19 June 2014.

Further China aircraft carrier research:

Andrew S. Erickson, “Watching China’s Carrier Dream Materialize–Via Music Video!China Analysis from Original Sources 以第一手资料研究中国, 22 April 2014.

Analysis of possible indigenous carrier construction approaches is offered in Andrew S. Erickson and Gabe Collins, “China Carrier Demo Module Highlights Surging Navy,” The National Interest, 6 August 2013.

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.

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).

Early assessment of Chinese aircraft carrier options laid out in Andrew S. Erickson and Andrew R. Wilson, “China’s Aircraft Carrier Dilemma,” Naval War College Review 59. 4 (Autumn 2006): 13-45.

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).