China has launched its first home built aircraft carrier, state media said Wednesday.
The PLA Navy plans to establish three aircraft carrier battle groups by 2020. The Liaoning and China’s first two domestically built carriers, currently under construction, will be part of the battle groups. One of the battle groups is to be deployed in the East China Sea, while the other two are to be deployed to the South China Sea.
The Type 001A aircraft carrier is the first aircraft carrier class independently built for the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The vessel is being constructed by Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company and started in 2015.
The Type 001A is an improved design based on the Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier (known as Type 001), and also uses a ski-jump bow flight deck.
In December 2013, the Central Military Commission told Duowei News it planned to commission two Liaoning-pattern aircraft carriers by 2020, designated as Type 001A.
Contracts were awarded to China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation to build the two carriers. The cost is projected to be US$9 billion according to several sources.
The 001A is a conventionally powered with a displacement of around 50,000 tonnes. It is likely to be powered by oil-fired boilers and steam turbines, though previously there has been speculation that it could be gas-turbine propelled.
According to satellite images of September 2015, the layout suggested a hull to have a length of about 240 m and a beam of about 35 m. The incomplete bow suggests a length of at least 270 m for the completed hull.
Commissioning is planned for 2020.