One of China’s largest shipbuilders has revealed that the country plans to speed up the development of its first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. This is in line with China’s plan to transform its navy into a blue-water force by 2025.
The state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), responsible for making both military and civilian ships in China has announced in a news release that it will redouble efforts to achieve technological breakthroughs to make the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, new nuclear-powered submarines, quieter conventionally powered submarines, underwater artificial intelligence-based combat systems and integrated networked communications systems.
The original news release was translated by Defense News has now been deleted from the CSIC’s website and is replaced by one that is missing references to the above-mentioned details. The updated news release simply states that the company “must resolutely implement (Chinese President) Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening our armed forces and take the building of a modern warfare system with Chinese characteristics as a guide to speed up breakthroughs in key core technologies.”
There are reports that China is also planning a larger, conventionally powered aircraft carrier that make use of electromagnetic catapults to launch aircraft. It previously announced that there had been a breakthrough that will allow the ship to generate enough power to operate the catapults.
China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is already operating a pair of catapults for carrier operations training at its air base in Liaoning Province where its Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark carrier-borne fighters are based. PLAN currently only has aircraft carriers that can only launch using ski-jumps. This restricts their ability to operate aircraft such as turboprop-powered airborne early warning aircraft.
Collin Koh, a research fellow at the Maritime Security Programme of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said that a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier will facilitate the continued increase in China’s naval presence. Due to its long endurance, China will be able to successfully carry out operations in far-off waters such as the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean.
The PLAN will also be able to respond to contingencies at a faster rate. It will be a huge help in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. We will have to wait and see when China manages to pull off the ambitious plan to develop the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.