Author Topic: China's Third Aircraft Carrier Could Be Nuclear  (Read 253 times)

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China's Third Aircraft Carrier Could Be Nuclear
« on: June 25, 2014, 04:10:46 AM »
By  David  Axe

China’s first aircraft carrier—the refurbished Ukrainian-built flattop Liaoning—entered testing in 2011. The People’s Liberation Army Navy is building a second carrier itself—a conventionally-powered vessel like Liaoning.

A third carrier currently in the planning stage could be bigger than her two predecessors—as big as an American Nimitz-class supercarrier, in fact—plus nuclear-powered, just like U.S. flattops. Atomic propulsion confers greater sailing range and supports more sensors, weaponry and other systems.

Lots of countries have one or two aircraft carriers. But none build flattops as big and capable as America’s 11 Nimitzs and new Ford-class CVNs. Evidence indicates that’s about to change.

In mid-June, Chinese Internet forum users circulated photos from an official event in Zhongshan. The photos depict what is “certainly a model of the first Chinese nuclear-powered aircraft carrier,” according to China Defense Blog.
Like arms companies all over the world, Beijing’s state industries routinely show off scale models of new weaponry designs before beginning construction.

The model “represents a final design for the new CVN [that] has been approved by PLAN for production,” China Defense Blog asserted. The ship’s features apparently mirror those on the latest American carriers—three elevators for efficiently moving planes between decks and four electric catapults for quickly launching them.

China Defense Blog apparently guessed the flattop’s planned size by comparing the scale model to the miniature jet fighters on its flight deck. The blog likened the new Chinese CVN—hull number 18—to the American Nimitzs and Fords, meaning CVN-18 could exceed a thousand feet in length and displace 100,000 tons, a third bigger than Liaoning.

A ship that size could carry 75 or more warplanes
With Liaoning for experiments and trial deployments, China is quickly developing its at-sea aviation capability. U.S. Naval War College analyst Andrew Erickson expects Beijing to produce “more than three” homemade flattops, presumably by the 2020s.

Nuclear carriers aren’t cheap. America’s first Ford-class ship is costing $13 billion just for construction. A single atomic-powered vessel can require hundreds of millions of dollars a year for operations.

Beijing seems to consider the ships worth it. “Developing such a capability is the only way for China to achieve robust sea control and long-range maritime power projection,” Erickson wrote.

Law requires the U.S. Navy to maintain 11 large carriers, of which two or three are usually at sea. The Americans also possess nine active “big-deck” amphibious assault ships that can carry Harrier jump jets and, starting next year, F-35B stealth fighters
« Last Edit: June 25, 2014, 04:12:25 AM by Trigger »


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Re: China's Third Aircraft Carrier Could Be Nuclear
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2014, 04:21:44 AM »
Law requires the U.S. Navy to maintain 11 large carriers, of which two or three are usually at sea

10 U.S. Code § 5062 - United States Navy: composition; functions

(a) The Navy, within the Department of the Navy, includes, in general, naval combat and service forces and such aviation as may be organic therein. The Navy shall be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained combat incident to operations at sea. It is responsible for the preparation of naval forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war except as otherwise assigned and, in accordance with integrated joint mobilization plans, for the expansion of the peacetime components of the Navy to meet the needs of war. 

 (b) The naval combat forces of the Navy shall include not less than 11 operational aircraft carriers. For purposes of this subsection, an operational aircraft carrier includes an aircraft carrier that is temporarily unavailable for worldwide deployment due to routine or scheduled maintenance or repair. 

 (c) All naval aviation shall be integrated with the naval service as part thereof within the Department of the Navy. Naval aviation consists of combat and service and training forces, and includes land-based naval aviation, air transport essential for naval operations, all air weapons and air techniques involved in the operations and activities of the Navy, and the entire remainder of the aeronautical organization of the Navy, together with the personnel necessary therefor. 

 (d) The Navy shall develop aircraft, weapons, tactics, technique, organization, and equipment of naval combat and service elements. Matters of joint concern as to these functions shall be coordinated between the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy.


« Last Edit: June 25, 2014, 04:23:53 AM by Trigger »

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