Primary Mast Affixed on China’s Type 003 Aircraft Carrier

The primary mast of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) Type 003 ‘super-carrier’ has been installed, new images being shared on social media show.

PLAN has 2 aircraft carriers – Liaoning and Type 002 Shandong – with skyjump type ramp for aircraft take-off and oblique runway and arresting cables for their recovery (STOBAR type design). This design without catapults significantly limited the maximum take-off weight of J-15s and restricted the variety of its embarked air group. To overcome these limitations, China is building the Type 003 of conventional design (CATOBAR type, catapult-launched), very similar to U.S. Navy ships.

The Type 003 boasts a similar size to the U.S. Navy’s Kitty Hawk-class, displacing more than 80,000 tons. It will come equipped with 3 electromagnetic catapults for rapid launching of a variety of aircraft, an oblique runway with arresting cables and 2 larger elevators than those used on Liaoning and Shandong. The ship’s approximate length will be 320 meters, with a flight deck width of 78 meters.

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This aviation cruiser will enter naval service around 2025.

Several pictures by local plane spotters surfaced last week showing two key aircraft of the future Chinese aircraft carrier airwing in flight: The new twin engine stealth fighter (sometimes referred to as the J-35 or J-XY) and the KJ-600 airborne early warning & Control (AEW&C) plane. These two aircraft are set to fly from China’s future Type 003 aircraft carrier.

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