The Chinese Navy’s large aircraft carrier, Type 003, is expected to be launched in 2021 and enter naval service around 2025.
General outline of the warship is already identifiable in recent openly available photographs. Blocks of the Type 003 aircraft carrier are currently being assembled in Shanghai-based Jiangnan Shipyard.
After all the blocks are put together, the upper structures will be installed. Since the blocks are built in advance, the assembly and the outfitting work will take much less time compared with China's second aircraft carrier, Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Chinese defense industry magazine, said in a report published in its WeChat account on Saturday.
The current status indicates that the Type 003 could be only a few months away from its launch before the end of 2021. After this the carrier will undertake outfitting work, be installed with equipment including radar and sensor devices, conduct tests and embark on sea trials, which could take about two years, meaning the warship could join naval service in 2024 or 2025, the magazine predicted.
The Chinese media had speculated earlier that the warship could be launched in 2020.
Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) also expects the country's third aircraft carrier to make its public debut in 2021.
"2021 is a year full of expectations, including the Type 003 aircraft carrier and also the H-20 bomber. It is time for our technological development to bear fruit," Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Type 003 carrier is expected to be as big as U.S. Navy’s Kitty Hawk-class, displacing more than 80,000 tons. The magazine said that the ship is likely to be equipped with electromagnetic catapults to launch aircraft, replacing the ski jump method used on current Chinese carriers.