A brand new aircraft carrier with brand new technology that is close to the kind featured in it’s American counterpart could end up being launched as soon as February 2022, according to a piece from the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
CSIS went on to say that its analysis, which is based on satellite imagery, which shows the carrier (currently known only as Type 003) nearing total completion with only a few additional items that need to be installed on it before the official launch of the vessel in “three to six months.”
The Type 003 is currently the third aircraft carrier for China, but it’s technically speaking the first that will enable Beijing to launch a wider variety of planes at a faster rate with more ammunition.
CSIS China Project senior fellow Matthew Funaiole went on to tell CNN during an interview that the Type 003 aircraft carrier “is a pretty significant step forward,” stressing that Beijing is “really committed to building out a carrier program, and they continue to push the boundaries of what they’re able to do,” as well as having the ability to now boast of having the largest naval force in the world.
The carrier’s value, however, isn’t solely in terms of combat capability, Funaiole emphasized, but also its worth in terms of diplomatic prestige and “power projection.”
“China wants to have a world-class navy. It wants to signal to the world that it has a world-class navy, [and] try to convince nations around the region or around the world that it is on par with the United States,” Funaiole went on to say, adding that the symbol of American naval power internationally is the fact that it has 11 carriers in its arsenal.
A U.S. Congressional Research report last month said the Type 003 was expected to have a displacement of some 100,000 tons, comparable to a U.S. carrier of the same class, according to CNN.
Despite the advanced launch system, Funaiole said there are still indications that the Chinese carrier has not caught up technologically to its U.S. counterparts, which have more catapults, a larger airway, and more elevators to permit quicker deployment of aircraft.
“All U.S. aircraft carriers are also nuclear-powered, while the Type 003 is believed to have only conventional steam propulsion,” the Newsmax report said. “Funaiole also stressed another major advantage for the U.S., which is its vast experience in crewing the ships and integrating them with the rest of the navy.”
“We’ve been at carrier operations for generations on generations and we have a number of different operators and engineers and technicians that have worked on them, that can pass that knowledge on to those who come after them,” Funaiole stated.