Taiwan military intelligence confirms China building two new aircraft carriers

China is building two aircraft carriers that will be the same size as its sole carrier, a 60,000-tonne refurbished Soviet-era ship, according to a new Taiwanese Defence Ministry report on the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Little is known about China’s aircraft carrier program, which is a state secret, although Chinese state media have hinted new vessels are being built. The Pentagon, in a report earlier this year, said Beijing could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years.

One of the new vessels is being built in Shanghai and the other in the northeastern city of Dalian, said the Taiwanese report.

Previous reports on China’s Aircraft carrier construction

June, 2015 photographs, show the beginnings of the hull of what has been called the Type 001A carrier taking form in the Dalian shipyard.

The shipyard appears to be employing a pyramid method of hull construction. Most civilian ships adopt a block method of hull construction for speed. As shipbuilding standards have improved, large military destroyers have also adopted this method of construction. The pyramid method of construction suggested by the photographs likely means that the project entails a greater level of difficulty than other civilian or military ships. The US still uses the pyramid method to build its carriers.

According to Western media reports, the Type 001A carrier incorporates an additional double rectangle structure, which, analysts say, is to allow for the installation of China’s new X band active electronically scanned array radar system. The radar system, which will likely be installed on the second deck of the ship, will give the ship 360 degree coverage, making it more advanced than the Liaoning, the country’s first aircraft carrier refitted from the hulk of a Soviet-era carrier purchased from Ukraine.

Shipyards for second and third aircraft carriers

China’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier will be built by Dalian Shipyard, Chinese media reported, adding that there are several reasons for it to become the building base for aircraft carriers.

The first reason is that the Liaoning, which marks China’s entry into the “world’s aircraft carrier club,” was repaired, maintained and converted at the shipyard, which has a workforce of engineers and skilled workers.

Secondly, the Dalian yard has built China’s first missile submarine, speedboat and missile destroyer, as well as supply vessels.

Jiangnan Shipyard will likely build China’s second domestically-built aircraft carrier.

The Dalian shipyard emerged because of its edge in the experience of design and production. Most of the parts of the Liaoning, especially the production of key equipment, came from the industrial unit of the Dalian facility.

China will require six years to build an aircraft carrier of its own and the next four aircraft carriers will boost the country blue-water naval capacity.

Although China’s blue-water navy capacity is still limited, reports said the water displacement of the second domestically-built carrier will be 59,000 tons, equal to the Liaoning, which is already in service and can carry 22 fixed-wing fighters.

Training facility for aircraft carrier crews

Chongming island appears to be the likely training base for aircraft carrier crews.