China is working on its fourth aircraft carrier and it is “likely to be nuclear powered”, a new report revealed on Saturday, citing sources close to the People’s Liberation Army.
Delays: After a two-year delay because of technical problems, construction work on the vessel resumed earlier this year, the South China Morning Post reported in January, citing a military source.
The South China Morning Post quoted a person close to the Chinese navy as saying that shipbuilders “are keen on making a significant breakthrough” with the construction of the fourth carrier.
“It will be a technological leap for the shipbuilding industry, but construction may take longer than for its sister ship due to the different propulsion systems.” the source told the Post.
The person did not say if a final decision was made, but told the Post it would be “a very bold decision that is full of challenges”.
China already has two operational aircraft carriers and a third – to which the source was referring – is expected to be launched this year. None are nuclear powered
China’s interest in Naval Forces: It was only in 2017 when China launched its first domestically made aircraft carrier, in a demonstration of the growing technical sophistication of its defense industries.
The 50,000-tonne carrier, known as Shandong, is based on the Soviet Kuznetsov-class design, with a ski jump-style deck for taking off and a conventional oil-fuelled steam turbine power plant.
The other vessel in operation is the 60,000-tonne Liaoning aircraft carrier, which was bought from Ukraine.
The third one, expected to be in operation this year, has an estimated displacement of about 85,000 tonnes, according to the Post report.