China’s next aircraft carrier, the fourth, is likely to be powered by a nuclear reactor, according to sources near the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) navy. China’s military naval expansion is continuous, in its quest to approach the parameters of the United States Navy or the US Navy, it is already the second most powerful on the planet. A process that has also evolved in record time, as in just a few years it has evolved from a force defending its vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to a real fleet of the high seas or blue waters.
One of its main goals is to equip it with a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which will follow the further developed Type 003. We now know that after a two-year delay due to technical issues, construction on the ship resumed at the beginning of this year, as reported by Chinese media South China Morning, citing a military source. Shipbuilders and marine propulsion engineers want to achieve a major breakthrough with the construction of the fourth aircraft carrier (). This will be a leap in technology for the shipbuilding industry, but construction may take longer than the sister ship due to different propulsion systems.
There are already two operational aircraft carriers in China, and the third, expected to be launched this year, will be conventionally powered. A second source asserts that the Central Military Commission of China is considering a proposal by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) naval consortium to use nuclear energy in the fourth aircraft carrier, although it has not confirmed whether a decision has been made that it would be a very brave decision and full of it Challenges. The CSSC claimed in February 2018 that it had started developing a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that would help the PLA Navy realize its strategic transformation, as well as its ability to combat deep-sea and open oceans by 2025.
In 2019, the China General Nuclear Power Group announced an order to build a 30,000-ton nuclear ship, which it called an experimental platform. The first source said the experimental platform should be a way to test nuclear reactors and other complementary technologies that would later be installed on aircraft carriers.
The news on the progress of the Chinese Navy released last year also indicated that it had purchased a number of technological reports on the development and construction of a nuclear propulsion system. While this decision is very costly, it partially avoids the serious technological risks associated with such a naval development challenge previously only attained by the naval industries of the United States and France. Although with this in mind, the People’s Liberation Army has significant experience in the field as it is equipped and operates with more than a dozen nuclear-powered submarines, including Type 091, Type 093 and Type 095.
It is not known what the displacement of this fourth Chinese aircraft carrier will be, but the third has a displacement of around 85,000 tons, so the tonnage is said to be higher. Lu Li-Shih, a former instructor at the Taiwan Naval Academy, said if the PLA decided to use nuclear power on its fourth aircraft carrier, it would be possible that in the future the CSSC would upgrade the steam turbines that power the other aircraft carriers mentioned above with reactors. nuclear. (Julio Maz Sanz).
Photo: One of the current Chinese aircraft carriers, the fourth may be nuclear (Photo: People’s Liberation Army Navy).
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