China's Third Aircraft Carrier Could be Nuclear-Powered, Experts Say

By | Apr 17, 2017 02:51 AM EDT
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Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson

In this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) March 15, 2009 in the Indian Ocean.(Photo : Getty Images)

With China's second aircraft carrier coming on the pipeline, experts are predicting what possible cutting-edge breakthroughs are there to await for China's third aircraft carrier.

Military expert Xu Guangyu told BTV that the third indigenous aircraft carrier could likely be nuclear powered.

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"The first domestically built carrier is likely to be like the Liaoning. It will be conventionally powered and use as a ski-jump take-off, whereas the second one is likely to use a catapult take-off... The third one, however, will benefit from major breakthroughs and may even be nuclear-powered," Xu said as quoted by China Daily.

Experts also forecasted that the vessel could even feature an electromagnetic launch. Last month, rumors have circulated that the Type 002 (temporary name for China's third aircraft carrier) will come with an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), which is similar to the new US-nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-79). EMALS uses a linear motor drive to launch an aircraft instead of the conventional steam piston drive.

China reportedly plans to produce two Type 002 carriers, and the first is slated to be launched in 2021. The carriers will have a displacement of 85,000 each, making them the biggest Chinese carriers.

It was previously reported that China's second aircraft carrier could accommodate between 28 and 36 units of Jian-15 fighters (J-15). It could soon be launched later this month, with some experts saying that the likely date in April 23, which is also the founding anniversary date of the People's Liberation Army's Navy.

China's first indigenously built aircraft carrier, temporarily named as the Type 001A, bears resemblance with the Liaoning, which Beijing purchased from Ukraine in 1998. However, Li Jie, a naval expert, said that the vessel's equipment and overall operation concept are more advanced and functional.

Some weapons were not included on the Type 001A to give more space for the J-15 fighter jets. Its hangars extended to give room for between six and eight more J-15 fighter jets than the Liaoning. It could also accommodate more helicopters and fixed-wing early warning aircraft. 

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