Type 003 aircraft carrier
|Operators:||People's Liberation Army Navy|
|Preceded by:||Type 002 aircraft carrier|
|Succeeded by:||Type 004 aircraft carrier|
|Propulsion:||conventional with integrated electric propulsion|
|Aviation facilities:||Hangar deck|
The Type 003 aircraft carrier is a second-generation Chinese aircraft carrier design. The Type 003 will be the first Chinese carrier to feature an integrated electric propulsion system. This will allow the operation of electromagnetic launch catapults. The Type 003 configuration would for the first time be catapult-assisted takeoff barrier arrested recovery (CATOBAR), while the first two carriers were short takeoff barrier arrested recovery (STOBAR). Foxtrot Alpha has suggested that the aircraft carrier is designated the Type 003, rather than the Type 002 as currently thought.
Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo of the People's Liberation Army Navy said in 2013 that China's next aircraft carrier would be equipped with an electromagnetic aircraft launch system. Multiple prototypes were spotted by media in 2012, and aircraft capable of electromagnetic launching were tested in Chinese Navy research facilities.
Construction of the carrier began in the mid-2010s, although the precise date is unknown. The National Interest reported that construction began in March 2015, while The Diplomat said that "initial work" had begun in February 2016, followed by a notice to proceed given to the Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard Group in March 2017. In September 2018, Foxtrot Alpha reported that there were two ships being built in Jiangnan and Dalian Shipyards simultaneously.
The construction of Type 003 aircraft carrier was reportedly delayed in June 2017 while the Navy tested electromagnetic and steam-powered catapult systems. By November 2017, the Navy had reportedly developed a new means of powering electromagnetic catapults with conventional power sources instead of nuclear reactors, and further work on the Type 003 was due to begin imminently. The design breakthrough is led by Rear Admiral Ma Weiming.
The ship is expected to be launched in 2020 and enter active service in 2023. It is estimated to have an aircraft capacity of about 40 fighter aircraft, several propeller-powered transport and airborne early warning and control aircraft.
On 7 May 2019, the Center for Strategic and International Studies identified overhead imagery of the hull under construction in satellite photographs. The images showed a bow section that appeared to end with a flat 30-metre (98-foot) front and a separate hull section 41 metres wide, suggesting that the vessel will be larger than the unbuilt 85,000-ton Soviet aircraft carrier Ulyanovsk but smaller than the 100,000-ton supercarriers of the United States Navy. Its capabilities have also been suggested to be comparable to that of the Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier.
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