China starts construction of third aircraft carrier: SCMP

China's first domestically built aircraft carrier was launched on April 26, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Stringer

Construction works on China’s third aircraft carrier started at a Shangai shipyard in 2017, the South China Morning Post reported citing sources.

The construction start closely follows the launch of the country’s first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A Shandong, which took place in Dalian in April 2017.

Unlike the Type 001A, which draws upon the country’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning – purchased by China from Ukraine in 1998 after the break-up of the Soviet Union – the nation’s third aircraft carrier will have a distinctive design.

According to SCMP, the carrier – dubbed CV-18 – will feature an electromagnetic aircraft launch system and will, at an estimated displacement of around 80,000 tons, be larger than the Liaoning which displaces around 60,000 tons.

The report identifies the Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard Group as the shipbuilder responsible for the construction of CV-18. It is expected that the ship could be ready for launch in two years.

China has already started training fighter pilots to operate China’s Shenyang J-15 aircraft in anticipation of the aircraft carriers’ arrival. China’s second aircraft carrier Shandong is expected to enter service this year. In an article from April 2017, China’s official military outlet PLA Daily indicated the nation could build a fleet of six aircraft carriers along with ten overseas bases.

China is expected to have four operational aircraft carriers by 2030.

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