April 27, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 9931

Chinese Media Outlet China's Third Aircraft Carrier Will Likely Be Launched In The Second Half Of 2022

April 27, 2022
China | Special Dispatch No. 9931

On April 4, 2022, the Chinese media outlet stated that CCP official media have been hinting that China may soon announce the launch of a third aircraft carrier.

Below is the article:[1]


'China's Third Aircraft Carrier Was Originally Scheduled For Launch On April 23'

"A day before China's 73rd Navy Day on April 23, [2022] the People's Liberation Army (PLA) official WeChat account @中国军号(Zhong Guo Jun Hao, Chinese bugle) released the PLA navy's first aircraft-carrier-themed promotional video. This video mainly introduces the development of the aircraft carriers of the Chinese Navy. The promotional video ends with Chen Jian, director of the battle command center of an aircraft carrier formation in the Chinese navy, receiving a phone call from his mother urging him to have a 'third child,' to which Chen replied, 'That's the arrangement.' As the phone call went on, the camera successively skipped over the flight deck marked '16' and '17' and stopped at a blank space of the wall. As we all know, the hull number of China's two existing aircraft carriers, Liaoning, is 16 and Shandong, 17. Therefore, such footage is almost a direct announcement of the imminent arrival of China's third aircraft carrier.

"Military experts believe that China's third aircraft carrier, which has been developed with many new technologies, should be launched in the second half of 2022. There is also speculation that the exact launch date may be set on August 1, the Founding Day of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Another source said the carrier is likely to be named 'Jiangsu' after the Chinese coastal province.

"China's third aircraft carrier was originally scheduled to be launched on April 23, the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Shanghai has caused delays in some key components of the aircraft carrier, the South China Morning Post reported recently, citing sources. The launch ceremony may have to be postponed due to the organizational difficulties during the COVID-19 outbreak in Shanghai, where the carrier is being built.

"With 18,000 kilometers of coastline, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) certainly needs to think deeply about its maritime strategy and aggressively expand the Chinese navy. In the military strategic principle of the Chinese Communist Party declared by Jiang Zemin, the former general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, on January 13th, 1993, the starting point of the PLA's preparations for military struggle was to win local wars under high-tech conditions. This required that the Chinese navy should not only strengthen the deterrence of local wars at sea, but also expand its depth of defense from the offshore to the far sea and develop the attack power of 'exterior-line operations.' At the time, unconfirmed sources said the PLA had set three goals: to break through the first island chain by 2010, the second island chain by 2020 and the third island chain by 2030, and to build the world's most powerful navy by the middle of the 21st century."

'The Third Carrier Is Different From The First Two'

"In September 2012, China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was commissioned, and in December 2019, China's second (and first domestically built) aircraft carrier, Shandong, was formally delivered to the PLA Navy. Chinese officials have rarely responded directly to outside questions about the third carrier of the PLA. Several spokesmen of China's Ministry of National Defense have said on many occasions that China will consider the construction and development of its aircraft carriers in light of the country's economic and social development as well as the needs of national defense and military development, taking all factors into consideration.

"On November 26, 2018, the official WeChat account of Xinhua News Agency published an article titled 'The "Aircraft Carrier's Style" Pose, Popular All Over The Country Six Years Ago, Still Makes People's Hearts Soar Today!' [It read]: 'Six years ago on November 23, the J-15 carrier-borne aircraft successfully took off and landed from China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning,' the article said. Six years on, China's home-made aircraft carrier has been piloted and will soon be put into service. A new type of aircraft carrier is being built on the slipway in an orderly manner.' The new type of aircraft carrier mentioned in the article is the PLA Navy's third aircraft carrier, and it is the first time that an official CCP media has ever confirmed that China is building its third aircraft carrier.

"The Western media has paid particular attention to China's third aircraft carrier, and there have been numerous analyses. CNN once reported that with the new carrier's aircraft catapult system, China could deploy its fleet of aircraft at sea, including airborne early warning aircrafts, refueling aircrafts and electronic jammers. According to a U.S. Congressional study in October 2021, China's new aircraft carrier is expected to have a displacement of about 100,000 tons, comparable to its US counterparts. The Type 003 is China's largest and most modern aircraft carrier, but still lags behind the Nimitz or Ford class nuclear-powered supercarriers of the U.S., according to Bloomberg. China also lacks a global network of ports needed to support its large, mainstay warships on long-term missions. China is still developing a reliable fifth-generation fighter that can take off and land from aircraft carriers. CNN analyzed that the U.S. Navy fleets will continue to outperform China in the field of practice for the foreseeable future.

"China's third aircraft carrier is widely believed to have been built using many new technologies, such as electromagnetic catapult. Satellite images also show that the third carrier is different from the first two. The PLA Navy's third carrier is also rumored to be China's first nuclear-powered Type 004 carrier capable of powering laser weapons and railguns. However, this rumor is not confirmed. It is certain that the future Type 003 and Type 004 aircraft carriers will form the two major categories of aircraft carriers with ocean-going combat capability of the Chinese Navy. To guard the Type 003 carrier, the PLA has also designed and manufactured its Type 055 guided-missile destroyer with a full displacement of 13,000 tons, capable of firing surface-to-air, anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles, as well as anti-submarine torpedoes launched by rocket propulsion, to assist the new carrier in combat.

"China's armed forces, especially its navy, have been rapidly expanding thanks to the military strengthening agenda of Xi Jinping, the current head of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Military Commission. Jiangnan Shipyard, based in Shanghai, is one of the most important shipyards on China's Yangtze River, building naval vessels such as aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines. According to a March 15 analysis based on the latest satellite images by the Paris-based website Naval News, the Jiangnan shipyard now covers more than 7.3 sq. km, while the neighboring Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard has expanded its footprint by about 50 per cent. In addition, Wuchang Shipyard is building a large number of submarines since it moved from central Wuhan to a new site on the lower Yangtze River in 2012, and the production capacity of nuclear submarines in Huludao, Liaoning Province, is booming. The expanding shipyards are seen as evidence of the People's Liberation Army's aggressive push to modernize its navy."


[1], April 22, 2022. The article was written by Wang Xin.

[2], January 13, 1993.

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