China’s third aircraft carrier, expected to be very different from the previous two with much larger displacement and featuring new catapults, could be launched in 2021 and enter naval service around 2025, media reports predicted based on recent photos of the ship’s construction site, reported Communist Party run media Global Times.
According to latest, openly available photos, blocks of the Type 003 aircraft carrier are being assembled in Shanghai and the general outline of the warship is already identifiable, Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Chinese defense industry magazine, said in a report published in its WeChat account on Saturday.
After all the blocks are put together, the upper structures will be installed, the report said, noting that since the blocks are built in advance, the assembly and the outfitting work will take much less time compared with China’s second aircraft carrier.
The current status indicates that the Type 003 could be only a few months away from its launch before the end of 2021, the magazine predicted.
After this the carrier will undertake outfitting work, be installed with equipment including radar and sensor devices, conduct tests and embark on sea trials, which could take about two years, meaning the warship could join naval service in 2024 or 2025, the report said.
Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) also expects the country’s third aircraft carrier to make its public debut in 2021.
In a report on Tuesday, CCTV showed what seems to be an aircraft carrier covered by a red blanket in computer-generated imagery, with a caption saying “We expect in 2021.”
Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday that the construction of the blocks are wrapped up and all that is left is the completion of assembly in the dock.
“2021 is a year full of expectations, including the Type 003 aircraft carrier and also the H-20 bomber. It is time for our technological development to bear fruit,” Song said.
Citing measurements based on the photos, Ordnance Industry Science Technology said that the Type 003 is larger than China’s second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, and boasts a similar size to the US’ Kitty Hawk-class, displacing more than 80,000 tons. Some other foreign reports predicted an even larger displacement of 100,000 tons.
The new carrier is expected to be equipped with electromagnetic catapults to launch aircraft, replacing the ski jump method used on current Chinese carriers, the magazine said.
The Chinese military has yet to announce any details of its the third aircraft carrier.
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