Type 003 aircraft carrier

The Type 003 aircraft carrier is a planned third generation aircraft carrier of the People's Liberation Army Navy. It is intended to be an iteration on the preceding Type 002 aircraft carrier. Like the Type 002, it will feature an integrated electric propulsion system that will allow the operation of electromagnetic launch catapults.[6][7] It will also be larger and feature nuclear propulsion, unlike the conventionally-powered Type 002.[7][8] It could generate enough electricity to power Chinese lasers and railguns currently under development.[9] The Type 003 will be the first Chinese carrier with nuclear marine propulsion. It is expected to be completed by the late 2020s, and up to four could be built.[10]

Class overview
Operators:  People's Liberation Army Navy
Preceded by: Type 002 aircraft carrier
General characteristics
Type: Aircraft carrier
Displacement: 107,500 tons,[1] possibly up to 110,000 tons[2][3]
Propulsion: Nuclear marine propulsion
Speed: 30+ knots[1]
Aircraft carried: 70 to 100 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft,[4] including J-15 and possibly J-20 or J-31 fighters, Xian KJ-600 airborne early warning and control aircraft, anti-submarine warfare aircraft, and stealth attack drones.[5]
Aviation facilities: Hangar deck



China's central government will reportedly spend RMB 22 billion (US$3.3 billion) on the development of two prototype molten salt nuclear reactors to be built at Wuwei in Gansu province. The goal is to have the reactors operational by 2020. The PLA Navy is interested in the technology to power its warships and aircraft carriers.[11]

In June 2018, the state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation opened public bidding for a nuclear-powered icebreaker, which observers believe would likely help develop the technology and expertise for the further development of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.[12]


In late 2017, 1600-ton gantry cranes were installed in Jiangnan Shipyard, prompting speculation that the aircraft carrier would be built there.[13] Later, in March 2018, a leak by shipbuilder China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, the owner of Dalian Shipyard, suggested that that the nuclear-powered Type 003 aircraft carrier would be part of its portfolio as well.[5] In April 2018, news.com.au claimed that metal cutting for the Type 003 began back in December 2017.[13]

Aircraft complement

The Type 003 would likely carry a complement of J-15 and J-31 fighters, Xian KJ-600 airborne early warning and control aircraft, anti-submarine warfare aircraft, and stealth attack drones.[5]

It was previously suggested that the aircraft carrier could carry J-20 aircraft.[9] However, in a programme on China Central Television, PLA Navy Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong dismissed the possibility that the aircraft would be used on aircraft carriers as the aircraft was not structurally designed to cope with carrier operations.[14] In addition, it does not have folding wings for compact storage, and its stealth coating would be susceptible to degradation while at sea.[14]

See also


  1. "Aircraft Carrier Project - People's Liberation Army Navy". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  2. Farley, Robert (5 May 2018). "China Building 'Nuclear' Aircraft Carriers: Could the Navy's Worst Nightmare Come True?". The National Interest. Center for the National Interest. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  3. Hutchison, Harold C. (8 Jan 2018). "Communist China started building its third carrier". We Are The Mighty. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  4. Pike, John. "Aircraft Carrier Project - People's Liberation Army Navy". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  5. Lin, Jeffrey Lin; Singer, P.W. (6 March 2018). "A Chinese shipbuilder accidentally revealed its major navy plans". Popular Science. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  6. Huang, Jingjing (9 May 2017). "Experts weigh in on what to expect from China's next two aircraft carriers - Global Times". Global Times. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  7. Roblin, Sebastien (1 May 2017). "The Real Reason the World Needs to Pay Attention to China's Growing Aircraft Carrier Fleet". The National Interest. Center for the National Interest. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  8. Mizokami, Kyle (7 September 2018). "Inside China's Plan to Build the Second-Biggest Aircraft Carrier Fleet in the World". Foxtrot Alpha. Jalopnik. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  9. Lin, Jeffrey Lin; Singer, P.W. (16 August 2017). "China's making major progress with its aircraft carrier tech". Popular Science. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  10. http://globalriskinsights.com/2017/06/chinas-aircraft-carrier-naval-defence/
  11. Chen, Stephen (5 December 2017). "China hopes cold war nuclear energy tech will power warships, drones". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 19 June 2018. Chen Fu, a thermal physicist at the Harbin Institute of Technology involved in the development of new power generation systems for China’s navy, said the heat generated by a thorium molten salt reactor could be perfect to help generate power on a warship.
  12. Zhao, Yusha (22 June 2018). "China one step closer to nuke-powered aircraft carrier with cutting-edge icebreaker comes on stream". Global Times. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  13. Seidel, Jamie (23 April 2018). "Here's what we know about China's newest aircraft carriers". news.com.au. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  14. "PLA admiral rejects talk of J-20 fighters on aircraft carriers". Asia Times. 24 November 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
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