New Chinese super transporter features Ford-class technology

It’s big, really big.

In fact, recent satellite images show that China’s new super aircraft carrier is as big as it can get for its dry dock.

SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellites belonging to Capella Space have revealed that the Chinese Type-003 – comparable to the US Navy’s advanced Ford-class aircraft carrier – is under construction near Shanghai.

According to, SAR imagery selected three EMALS (electromagnetic aircraft launch system) deck catapults, a major improvement over Russian aircraft carriers already in service. The latter rely on a ski jump arch to launch planes.

This means that the KJ-600 AWE & C (Airborne Early Warning And Control) and J-15 Flanker fighters can be used. This new twin-propeller plane closely resembles the E-2 Hawkeye and is considered generally comparable.

The Type-003 is also around 80m wide and represents the “full-size” Chinese aircraft carrier for the foreseeable future, based on the size of the Shanghai dry dock and another gigantic dry dock 1,900 km away ( 1,200 miles) further south, in Sanya on Hainan.

This facility is strategically located to access the South China Sea.

An aircraft carrier, the Type-002 Shandong, is already based there, along with most of China’s nuclear submarine fleet.

China has the world’s largest navy and the largest shipbuilding industry, but the Type 003 is the latest advancement, The Guardian reported.

It is part of Beijing’s attempts to push the US Navy back into the Western Pacific, past the first island chain that stretches south of Japan, between Taiwan and the Philippines to the South China Sea – the reason Washington wants to draw distant Australia and the UK to the region; and the controversial UKUS defense pact.

“China has built a capacity over the past two decades to deprive the United States of meaningful freedom of action in the Western Pacific,” said Sidharth Kaushal, researcher at the Rusi think tank.

“It started with long-range anti-ship missiles, but now there is an increasing naval capacity – and it has reached the point where the United States is only viable because it has allies in the region.”

Assuming the PLA plans to operate the KJ-600 from a Chinese aircraft carrier, it will become one of only three countries with carrier-based AEW & C capability. Credit: USN / Wiebo Concept Art.

While the Type-003 launch isn’t imminent, the $ 13 billion USS Gerald R. Ford could officially be deployed in 2022.

The Ford, which is 77m wide and 333m long, has conducted sea trials this year and spent more than 50% of its time in 2021 at sea. The ship has also made more than 8,000 launches and landings catapults since its entry into service in 2017.

Navy officials have also said the carrier is expected to finally have all of its weapon elevators working by the end of this year.

Ford’s elevator systems use new technology – high-powered magnets instead of cables – to move ammunition.

All 11 were supposed to be in working order when the ship was delivered to the Navy in May 2017, but none were operational. Since then, they have slowly come online.

Since World War II, the United States has been the dominant regional naval power, seeking to provide a guarantee of security for Japan, South Korea and in particular Taiwan.

But Chinese President Xi Jinping’s desire to build a world-class navy by 2035 is quickly changing the math.

The PLA Navy, according to the Pentagon, now has 350 warships compared to 293 for the United States, which, unlike its equivalent, is engaged worldwide.

China’s total fleet has tripled in size over the past 20 years and aims to reach 400 by 2025, while a US plan to increase to 355 has no fixed date for implementation.

Such numbers underlie the deployment to the Pacific of the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and its eight support warships – including one American destroyer – in the summer and fall.

The British capital ship has been engaged in a series of multinational exercises, clearly aimed at Beijing – including one with the United States, Australia, France, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea in August – and is expected to return via the South China Sea.

The first nationally-made aircraft carrier Shandong has carried out regular combat-oriented sea trial and training missions after serving in the People’s Liberation Army Navy for 10 months, reported China Central Television. Photo: Global Times

The AUKUS deal will provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarine technology, enabling long-range submarine deployments.

A traditional diesel submarine operating out of Perth, Western Australia, could only handle an 11-day deployment in the South China Sea. Nuclear propulsion extends the duration of the mission to two months.

However, Australia’s nuclear submarines won’t be ready until around 2040, and although it is possible to hire them from the United States, China is building a nuclear submarine every 15 months.

Australia’s new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines would preferably be based on an existing design, Defense officials revealed this week, as part of a plan to launch the ships before 2040 in order to ‘avoid a massive gap in the country’s maritime defenses.

Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, head of the government’s nuclear-powered submarine task force, said Australia was looking for a “mature” design of Britain or the United States that could “speed up the process. delivery of the first submarine to Australia in the 2030s. “

In terms of tonnage, technology and combat experience, experts say China is lagging behind.

Despite the number of ships, Congress estimates that the US Navy has more personnel: 330,000 versus 250,000.

The existing Chinese submarines are considered noisy and were detected following HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Chris Parry, a retired Royal Navy Rear Admiral, added: “China has a lot of spare steel, shipbuilding capability and expertise and good weapons that it took from the Russians. .

“But the question is whether Beijing has enough trained workforce – or to put it another way – can they fight?”

While some experts say it has not been tested, others insist that the PLAN has made great strides forward.

And when it comes to Taiwan, all bets are off, Kaushal warned.

“Don’t underestimate the emotional dimension,” he said.

“Nationalism is a powerful force in China, prompting politicians to take a hard line in territorial disputes. “

Sources:, the Guardian,, Sydney Morning Herald

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