Wed, May 08, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Images show work on China’s third carrier: analysts

Reuters, HONG KONG and BEIJING

A satellite image shows what appears to be construction on a third Chinese aircraft carrier at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai on April 17.

Photo: CSIS / ChinaPower / Maxar Technologies 2019 / Handout via Reuters

Construction of China’s first full-sized aircraft carrier is well under way, according to satellite images obtained and analyzed by a US think tank.

The images from last month, provided to Reuters by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, reveal considerable activity over the past six months on a large vessel at the Jiangnan shipyard outside Shanghai.

China has not formally confirmed that it is building a third carrier, despite hints in state media, and the timing and extent of its carrier program are state secrets.

The Pentagon last week said that China had begun construction, but no images have emerged until now.

Both Asian and Western militaries, and regional security analysts, are seeking information on the carrier, which is expected to be China’s first large, modern platform capable of leading a full range of strike group operations.

The effort to build a large, locally designed carrier is seen as a core part of China’s extensive military modernization drive.

The CSIS images show a bow section that appears to end with a flat 30m front and a separate 41m-wide hull section, with gantry cranes looming overhead.

That suggests a vessel, which China has dubbed Type 002, somewhat smaller than the US’ 100,000-tonne carriers, but larger than France’s 42,500-tonne Charles de Gaulle, analysts said.

Fabrication halls the size of several soccer fields have been built nearby and work appears to be continuing on a floodable basin, possibly to float the finished hull into the nearby Yangtze River.

“While details regarding the Type 002 are limited, what is observable at Jiangnan is consistent with what is expected for the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s third aircraft carrier,” the think tank said in the analysis, which was to be published on its Web site yesterday.

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