China Shifts Aircraft Carrier Policy 23 August, 2019

China’s second aircraft carrier can carry at least 36 J-15 fighter jets, some 50 percent more than the country’s first, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Tuesday. The new capacity signals new mission for aircraft carrier as it indicates air superiority missions.

According to CCTV, China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, can carry 24 J-15 fighter jets. The new Type 001A was an upgraded version of the Liaoning, a former Soviet Kuznetsov-class carrier, with a much smaller control tower “island” but greater displacement.

Although the second carrier known as the Type 001A is similar to the Liaoning, it has an optimized flight deck, reduced weapon areas and a smaller superstructure with added deck areas. As a result, it has an enlarged hangar, but reduced space for missile storage compared to the Liaoning.

These extra areas allow the new carrier to carry 50 per cent more J-15 fighter jets.

Chinese navy will rely on replenishment fleet to keep aircraft carrier fit in weapon stock.

The 24 J-15s of the Liaoning could be a limit factor as regional combat might require about 40 aircraft in order to seize air supremacy. The 36 fighter jets on the Type 001A would greatly expand its combat capability.

Under normal operational conditions, aircraft fleets are divided into three. One division is on the air, one division is on refuelling and the last one is on the flight deck is preparing for take-off or providing carrier’s safety. 24 aircraft onboard means eight aircraft per division if all aircraft joins operation. 36 aircraft mean however 12 aircraft per different mission.

The US operates much larger aircraft carriers, including the Nimitz class which can carry about 60 aircraft, while the country’s latest Ford-class can carry about 75.


While the Type 001A retained the Liaoning’s ski-jump flight deck, at 315 metres (1,033ft) it is 10 metres longer. The new ship has a full displacement of 70,000 tonnes, compared with the Liaoning’s 58,600 tonnes.

Unlike the Liaoning, the new carrier has a Type 346 “Star of the Sea” digital radar system.

The Liaoning carries 14 helicopters and has a crew of about 2,000. Both ships are powered by four-shaft conventional steam turbines, although the top speed of the Type 001A is 31 knots, slower than the Liaoning’s 32.

The Liaoning, formerly the Varyag, was sold to China by Ukraine in 1998 as the unfinished second ship of its class. State-owned CSIC retrofitted the vessel from 2005 at its Dalian shipyard and delivered it to People’s Liberation Army Navy in 2012.

The Type 001A has gone through its seventh sea trial and the builders say it can carry 36 fighters, 12 more than sister ship the Liaoning.

China Shifts Aircraft Carrier Policy

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