Power Projector: China’s third aircraft carrier will advance its global ambitions
The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will soon launch its third aircraft carrier, a development marking a significant expansion of China’s ability to project global power.
The Chinese government supported world times The newspaper describes PLAN’s third carrier as larger and more technologically sophisticated than China’s now operational second carrier, Shandong. Many reports suggest that the carrier should be unveiled quite soon, although an exact date is not yet available.
The world times reports that work can be done on the ship even after launch, suggesting that the PLAN schedule for the carrier launch is flexible.
“Based on the general shipbuilding model, some fitting out work of a ship can be done either before launch or after launch. This means that Jiangnan Shipyard and the PLA Navy can choose when to launch the aircraft carrier once its construction has reached a certain level,” said the world times writing.
China’s new locally-built aircraft carrier appears to resemble the US Navy’s Ford-class aircraft carriers, as they abandon China’s traditional “ski-jump” configuration in favor of a taller, flatter deck that looks like the Ford class. Beyond that, there’s another substantial way the emerging Chinese carrier seems to mirror the Ford class. The world times reports that “commercial satellite images indicate that it is different from the previous two carriers and uses electromagnetic catapults”.
The use of an electromagnetic catapult suggests that the new Chinese transporter could be a specific “copycat” of the Ford class and raises the question of the maturity, evolution and effectiveness of Chinese technology in this field.
While the ability to operate three carriers is certainly less than the US Navy’s fleet of eleven carriers, the addition of a new carrier greatly expands China’s ability to project power well into the world. beyond the Pacific theater.
A previous report in the world times quotes a Chinese military expert as saying that “we need to sail to less familiar waters, deal with more complicated weather and sea conditions in more complex missions, and have more accompanying forces.”
However, despite adding a third aircraft carrier, China so far lacks a stealth fighter launched by a fifth-generation aircraft carrier. The PLA’s J-31 fighter has been underway for several years as a potential rival to the US Navy’s F-35C. However, few J-31s exist, and it is not at all clear that the emerging aircraft can compete with the mighty F-35. Without the ability to achieve air superiority or project stealth power from the air, an additional Chinese carrier is unlikely to have an impact in a high power conflict. What it will do, however, is allow China to adopt a forward presence as it strives to expand its influence in regions such as Africa and the Middle East.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the national interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a highly trained expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Osborn also worked as an on-air military anchor and specialist on national television networks. He has appeared as a guest military pundit on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University..