China's third aircraft carrier could be launched within the next two years, be combat ready by 2025 and feature an electromagnetic catapult launch system and stealth fighter jets.
Soon after the launch of the second carrier, the Shandong on Tuesday, reports have emerged of the possibility of a third aircraft carrier, China’s most modern yet, to take on the like of the US Ford class carriers.
The third carrier could be equipped with four electromagnetic catapults instead of the ski-jump deck which the second carrier has, according to a Wednesday report by Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Xi'an-based magazine.
The report quoted Zhu Yingfu, chief designer of China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning, as saying in a speech on China's future carriers that China was developing both a steam-powered and an electromagnetic catapult -- and he personally preferred the latter.
The catapult launch system will provide capability for launching aircraft while also enabling it to send large attack drones and fixed-wing early-warning aircraft into the sky.
The catapults will increase the release speed of aircraft by at least one-third, Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times on Wednesday.