Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

China’s Third Aircraft Carrier Could Be Nuclear (And as big as American flattops) blog War is Boring ^ | June 20, 2014 | David Axe

Posted on 06/22/2014 9:35:13 PM PDT by sukhoi-30mki

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.

TOPICS: Government
KEYWORDS: aerospace; carrier; china; davidaxe; japan; navair; warisboring
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-26 next last

1 posted on 06/22/2014 9:35:13 PM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: sukhoi-30mki

Yeah, I thought their next one might be big

2 posted on 06/22/2014 9:36:53 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GeronL

I bet it’s big enough to have its own Walmart! /s;)

3 posted on 06/22/2014 9:39:40 PM PDT by Frank_2001
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: sukhoi-30mki

No ski jump?

4 posted on 06/22/2014 9:48:19 PM PDT by higgmeister ( In the Shadow of The Big Chicken!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: sukhoi-30mki

Doesn’t look very intimidating.

5 posted on 06/22/2014 9:48:25 PM PDT by Viennacon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: higgmeister

No more ski jump... it’s a big boy carrier!!

6 posted on 06/22/2014 9:49:11 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Viennacon

We are currently buying (from) China 440 billion dollars / year of goods.

We are currently selling China 122 billion dollars of goods.

That is a whole heck of a lot of financing, for China’s military.

Just saying.

7 posted on 06/22/2014 9:52:27 PM PDT by Cringing Negativism Network (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: sukhoi-30mki

Its one thing to build them. Its an entirely different and probably more critical need to train a competent crew. Without the tradition of naval aviation , combat experience and the hard won lessons learned over eighty years on carriers, that ship may be outdated before it is fully functional and effective.

8 posted on 06/22/2014 9:52:37 PM PDT by allendale
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: allendale

China is spending years and years training those crews

9 posted on 06/22/2014 9:53:06 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: sukhoi-30mki

Ohheck! Ididn’t notice this: four electric catapults for quickly launching... Not steam catapults; they must really have good spys.

10 posted on 06/22/2014 9:56:30 PM PDT by higgmeister ( In the Shadow of The Big Chicken!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Cringing Negativism Network

Time to bring back America jobs, wouldn’t you say?

11 posted on 06/22/2014 9:57:10 PM PDT by Viennacon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: sukhoi-30mki

Still in the planning stages, and since that ship is supposed to be a nuke, and a CATOBAR launcher, it will be unlike their other two hulls. Gonna be a loooooooooooooong time before that thing sees water, much less active service, even if they have a crew that can run it. It’s taking the US 7 years from laying the keel to commissioning a Ford Carrier, and that’s largely because we’ve been building nukes for forty years already. In all likelihood, by the time the Chinese “Nimitz” takes its place in the Line, the US Nimitz hulls will all be considered obsolete and will already have their decommission dates set (even if they’re still in service). There will be at least 4 Ford carriers in service by then, maybe more; Enterprise is scheduled for commissioning in 2025, and I don’t expect a Chinese nuclear carrier much before 2030.

12 posted on 06/22/2014 10:02:24 PM PDT by Little Pig
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Viennacon

I completely agree with that.

Which party, is going to stand up for America workers, doing American jobs?

GOP stand up. Bring back American jobs.

13 posted on 06/22/2014 10:03:34 PM PDT by Cringing Negativism Network (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: sukhoi-30mki

Also, is it just me, or are their trap wires set rather forward? Their model shows the wires right in front of the “Island”.

14 posted on 06/22/2014 10:05:25 PM PDT by Little Pig
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: sukhoi-30mki

Never mind, I missed the reflection; their “Island” is set more aft, like the Ford carriers, but even then, the wires do still look a bit too far forward.

15 posted on 06/22/2014 10:07:23 PM PDT by Little Pig
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: sukhoi-30mki
Our lego models are better than that.

16 posted on 06/22/2014 10:19:53 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lost my tagline on Flight MH370. Sorry for the inconvenience.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: sukhoi-30mki

Is it going to fall apart like all the crap that I have that is stamped MADE IN CHINA?

17 posted on 06/22/2014 11:30:25 PM PDT by Jim from C-Town (The government is rarely benevolent, often malevolent and never benign!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Little Pig
Your points are well taken and we should keep every one of them in mind.

I should like to ask the larger question, why do we build and maintain aircraft carriers at such an enormous cost? How do they further the nation's national security?

If we are building them to refight the battle of Midway, I think we are well advanced along the wrong track. I do not think were going to be fighting a war with China with conventional forces on a world scale, although there certainly might be many flareups, hopefully geographically isolated, which have the potential to get out of control.

The Chinese right now and for the foreseeable future take few pains to hide their ambitions in their near Asia. They are intimidating Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. But they're not overtly threatening these nations with nuclear war, that would be fought with missiles probably and not with planes.

They are attempting to change the balance of power in the region. In other words, they want to end the role of the United States as the cop on the beat in their neighborhood and they want to substitute themselves in that role. Their idea of a cop on the beat, however, is one who takes payoffs and the Chinese plan to strip their neighbors of commodities much like the Japanese conception for the greater Southeast Asia coprosperity sphere of the late 1930s.

Even if Chinese ambitions are less rapacious, they still see themselves in need of enormous quantities of commodities from around the world, especially Africa and South America to feed their teeming millions and to advance a 21st-century technical society. In order to get into those continents and get the stuff back to China, they want to be assured that they can control the sea lanes. Certainly, carriers fit that purpose as well as the purpose of intimidating their immediate neighbors.

So we as the dominant naval power the world ultimately projecting sea power by the use of very expensive carriers, should consider what the world will look like in a couple of decades when the Chinese have even a few carriers of concededly more limited capabilities. Think as the Soviets thought when Reagan was introducing Star Wars, they thought it probably would not work-but they could not be sure and that lack of certainty changed everything.

The whole balance of power will change. The whole system of alliances will be threatened and probably change. A socialist nation in South America which sells copper to China might consider itself closer to China than to the United States, not geographically but strategically and economically. If once the United States, as hateful a Yankee nation as that might be, provided a system of security, now that system is not perfect and the Chinese are providing a different system with economic benefits.

I recall being abused on these threads about 10 years ago for endorsing the projections of an article to the effect the Chinese economy would exceed ours within a reasonable number of years. We are now on the threshold of that calamity and with it, after a time lag, inevitably comes the threshold of military power.

Worse, in many ways the Chinese are building an industrial capacity that will exceed ours in important ways. For example, I have read that the Chinese will have a shipbuilding capacity approaching 50 times ours. If true, the timeline changes drastically. They do not need a learning curve times 20 but only a learning curve to the point where they get a serviceable carrier which could compete and change perceptions and therefore the balance of power and, in the time to build one carrier, build 20. Of course I know is not as simple as that, but nobody told Henry Kaiser of those difficulties during World War II. He built one liberty ship every day fooling the gainsayers and the Japanese.

I believe that we should lift our sights from aircraft carriers to the next dominating weapon system. Perhaps the submarines, perhaps that is weapons launched from satellites, perhaps that is cyber warfare, or perhaps it is a combination of all of these. But that still does not change our problem of a shifting balance of power. We will see a shifting balance of power with immediate ramifications in the Persian Gulf when Iran gets the bomb. Everything in that region will change. We should expect everything to change in the Far East for much the same reasons.

18 posted on 06/23/2014 12:34:28 AM PDT by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: sukhoi-30mki

Still require command, control and logistics.

They are behind us.

19 posted on 06/23/2014 12:49:13 AM PDT by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously-you won't live through it anyway-Enjoy Yourself ala Louis Prima)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nathanbedford

Carriers aren’t about being the centerpiece of a flotilla anymore. Once upon a time, they were intended to fight as the core element in a naval armada, acting as flag ship and a way to increase the amount of firepower available to target the enemy.

However, nowadays, that’s changed. Certainly there’s still a significant Naval role for the carrier, but today the carrier is akin to a mobile airbase, capable of projecting power in regions where the US does not have assets already stationed, or at least stationed in such numbers as to be capable of projecting force. And more to the point, doing it quickly.

It’s arguable as to whether an airplane can take territory, and more arguable as to whether it can hold it, but air power certainly does a fantastic job of denying territory to an enemy, and of “killing them and breaking their stuff” as the saying goes, and doing it in large volume at high speed.

China is probably the biggest reason to keep carriers around. The US simply doesn’t have enough land facilities close to China to be of any use if China decides they want full control of the Western Pacific. A carrier can be a credible replacement.

Whether or not it serves the US’s national security to be capable of projecting force globally is probably a separate matter. However, assuming for the sake of argument that it is, the carrier is probably the best way to do it for now and for at least the next couple of decades.

20 posted on 06/23/2014 1:14:05 AM PDT by Little Pig
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-26 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson