The Moscow-based Military Parade has revealed more details on China's mysterious indigenous aircraft carriers currently under construction in Dalian and Shanghai.
In an report on Feb. 28, the Russian website said that the first vessel — known as 001A and designed by the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation — is being built in Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning province and will be equipped with a steam catapult. The new carrier is expected to have a greater tonnage than China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was originally a Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier purchased from Ukraine in 1998.
The second vessel — known as 002 — under construction at Jiangnan shipyard on Shanghai's Changxing island, will be designed as China's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the report said. The size of the 002 will be similar to the USS Kitty Hawk with a tonnage of 61,351, and will be 5% larger than the 001A.
Both vessels have been designed based on blueprints of the unfinished Soviet Ulyanovsk-class aircraft carrier, according to Military Parade. The 002 will be fitted with four steam catapults, while the 001A will only have two. The 001A is likely to be named after the northeastern province of Shandong, following in line with the Liaoning, which was also named after a Chinese province.
The Shandong aircraft carrier may begin its service with the PLA Navy as soon as 2018, the report said, adding that China plans to build a total four aircraft carriers. Once completed, the PLA Navy would be able to establish four carrier battle groups to expand its maritime influence in the South China Sea and Western Pacific.