The Chinese PLA Navy’s first home-made aircraft carrier is likely to be seaworthy by the year end and play host to 40-50 aircraft and an Active Phased Array Radar (APAR) radar, Chinamil website reported today.
The official website of the Chinese army quoted western media and a local military expert to provide details of the aircraft carrier and not any authoritative Chinese government source.
“The carrier island installation is the last step of building the carrier body, after which the carrier will have outfitting. Based on the speed of aircraft carrier construction in other countries, island installation takes at least half a year, Military expert Cao Weidong was quoted as saying in an interview by Chinamil.
"But our aircraft carrier will be ready to enter water at the end of this year or early next year, which is pretty fast."
CCTV quoted foreign media as saying that the upper-structure of the carrier island has two new rectangular structures that can facilitate the installation of China's new X-band APAR.
Cao added that APAR meets the combat demand of China's new aircraft carrier and China's demand for developing IT weapon because it not only sees farther, but also captures a large number of targets.
The radar performance of China's first home-made aircraft carrier is better than carrier Liaoning, so the employment of APAR is highly possible, which will largely enhance the carrier's combat capability based on its longer detection distance and better ability of capturing the targets.
Some expert said in an interview that the use of new equipment like laser weapon in the future aircraft carrier will reinforce its defense capability and overall combat performance.
Regarding whether the first home-made aircraft carrier will be fitted with laser weapon, Cao Weidong said the existing laser weapons in strong military powers like the US are not large enough to destroy incoming missiles and large vessels, and they are just equipped in few vessels for trial use.
Someone familiar with the matter previously predicted that the new home-made carrier is able to carry 40-50 aircraft including 24-32 J-15 fighters, early warning aircraft, electronic combat aircraft and helicopters. This is an improvement over carrier Liaoning that can carry 24 J-15 fighters.
Cao Weidong agreed to the numbers. According to him, the first home-made carrier has a medium-and-large tonnage and can carry 40-50 aircraft at most, including the same number of fixed-wing fighters as those onboard Liaoning.
Helicopters used for early warning, submarine searching and transportation will also be fitted. "The first home-made carrier has a tonnage close to Liaoning's and they both have ski-jump deck, so the number of onboard aircraft won't increase too much," Cao said.