China’s New Aircraft Carrier Might Not Be a Carrier At All

The vessel under construction is somewhere between 558 ft and 885 ft long, with a beam greater than 98 ft. That's a little small for a carrier, and with those numbers, many are wondering if it's even a carrier at all.

That said, it shouldn’t be a surprise to most defense experts that Beijing is interested in acquiring (or building) additional carriers. According to the Defense Department’s 2015 Annual Report to Congress[PDF] on China’s military, Beijing “also continues to pursue an indigenous aircraft carrier program and could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years.”

And media in Taiwan and Hong Kong have reported that China may launch its first indigenously built carrier – the Type 001A – on December 26, to coincide with the 122nd birthday of Mao Zedong. Finally, Chinese media have also reported that an indigenous carrier is under construction at the port in Dalian.

As The National Interest further reported:

While China might be building a new flattop, the vessel is likely to be much smaller than the U.S. Navy’s 100,000-ton Nimitz or Ford-class nuclear-powered carriers. The Chinese vessels will probably be smaller, conventionally-powered either by steam or diesel propulsion and probably will not have electromagnetic catapults.

 The reason for that is simple: Chinese shipbuilders just don’t have the experience to construct large, complex warships like modern U.S. carriers, nor does the PLAN have the experience to maintain such vessels, according to this assessment[PDF] from the U.S. Naval War College.

While China might have money and enough military personal to inhabit a small continent, they're lacking in the military technology required to be effective. The truth of the matter is, they're struggling to build modern nuclear reactors for their submarine fleet. While America should be careful with how they handle China, it might be a while before they're capable of carrying aircrafts across the ocean.





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