China’s shipbuilder hints at third aircraft carrier

China's shipbuilder hints at third aircraft carrier

June 21 (UPI) — China’s state-owned shipbuilder released an image of what appears to be its third aircraft carrier, but quickly took down the pictures of the vessel with a new launching system.

The picture of the Type 002, equipped with an electromagnetic aircraft launch system, was taken down on Wednesday, the same day it was published on Chinese social media, the South China Morning Post reported Thursday.

According to state tabloid Global Times, Beijing’s third aircraft carrier would have a displacement of 80,000 tons and is expected to be complete in three years.

The China Shipbuilding Industry Corp. began work on the Type 002 in late 2017 in Jiangnan Shipyard, Shanghai.

The decision to install an electromagnetic aircraft launch system is a sign China wants to adopt the latest technology available, analysts say.

“The progress of the new carrier and the catapult seem in synchronization. It will take a few years for the ship to be built and the system to be installed and tested,” naval expert Li Jie told the Post.

Zhou Chenming, a Chinese military expert, said the information that appeared briefly online indicates a “carrier with a catapult launch system is very much on the horizon” for China.

The Global Times pointed out the new vessel has a “flat-top flight deck, which is different from the angled, ‘ski jump’ decks of Liaoning and Type 001A.”

The electromagnetic launch system would enable high-speed launches, high-frequency takeoffs and quick responses, said military expert Song Zhongping.

The Type 002 may also be conventionally rather than nuclear powered, according to the diagram.

News of the aircraft carrier comes at a time when Hong Kong-based media is reporting a senior executive of CSIC is under investigation for graft and leaking intelligence on Chinese carriers to the CIA.

Sun Bo, former CSIC general manager, is charged with “gross violation of laws and party discipline,” according to a notice from China’s National Supervision Commission and the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, Asia Times reported.