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Tracking China’s 3rd Aircraft Carrier
"Type 002" Being Built at China’s Jiangnan Shipyard
China’s 3rd Aircraft Carrier

CSIS's China Power Project has analyzed new satellite imagery showing what appears to be the construction of a third aircraft carrier, the Type 002, at China's Jiangnan Shipyard. While details regarding the carrier are limited, it is projected to be operational by 2022.

The construction of a third aircraft carrier – the Type 002 – appears to be underway at China’s Jiangnan Shipyard. Commercial satellite imagery collected on April 17, 2019 shows significant new activity since ChinaPower first analyzed the shipyard in late 2018. At the new assembly facility to the southeast of the existing shipyard, there is evidence of a large vessel being assembled and a floodable basin being constructed.

Visible through the clouds and mist is what looks to be a bow and main hull section of a large vessel. While details regarding the Type 002 are limited, what is observable at Jiangnan is consistent with what is expected for the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) third aircraft carrier.

The bow section measures approximately 22.5 meters-long and it tapers from a width of approximately 34 meters down to approximately 30 meters. The haze in the image and the image’s resolution make it difficult to determine if the bow section is resting on a construction platform or if the reddish sections extending forward and aft of the partially assembled section are part of the bow itself. If measured to include these components, the hull section has an overall length of approximately 48 meters.

The main hull section is partially hidden by both mist and rail-mounted environmental shelters, making it difficult to accurately measure its length at this time. The main hull section is, however, approximately 40 meters-wide.

Also visible at the new assembly facility are several prefabricated sections. These sections are laid out on the ground adjacent to the hull assembly and distributed on the surrounding road network that leads to the new assembly facility to the south and southeast. Since ChinaPower last analyzed the area, the construction of a new tower crane has also begun.

Immediately south of the new assembly facility is a semi-flooded area, which appears to be in the process of being converted to a floodable ship basin. Construction of what is likely a seawall on the east side of this area has been ongoing since late 2018. A seawall, or a launching channel, is a necessity for any vessels being constructed at the new assembly facility. Currently, there is no access to the river to launch vessels. It is unclear if the shipyard’s current road network could support the load of transporting large components to the main shipyard.

Various unofficial reports speculate that the conventionally-powered Type 002 will be larger than its predecessors and will feature an electromagnetic catapult launch system. The carrier is projected to be operational by 2022.

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