Chinese navy is now a twin carrier force as it recently inducted its second, but first indigenously built vessel. The second Type 001A carrier too is based on the Russian Kuznetsov design like the Liaoning and sports a ski-jump ramp system to launch aircraft.
The second carrier, though lower in tonnage compared to the first, is claimed to be more spacious so as to carry more fighters and support platform. However, it inherits most of the limitations of the first vessel owing to its launch mechanism. This carrier ship too will get a significant complement of J-15 carrier borne fighters, though it might not be capable of launching them at their maximum take-off weight.
However PLAN has managed to modify its KJ-500 AWACS designated – the KJ-600 that could be launched from its Type-001A class vessel. This feet was achieved by tuning up the power plant of the aircraft probably with assistance from the Ukranian Motor Sich Company. The aircraft has also been given the necessary modification such as a strengthened landing gear, tail arrestor hook, foldable wings and a sturdier airframe. The aircraft will significantly enhance the carrier air defence by boosting its surveillance and on-air fighter command and coordination capability.
The second CV-001A carrier has been given a conventional power plant and will only match the range of the Liaoning. This naval platform will enhance China’s capability to project power in the East and the South China Sea area. China might also in future establish some sort of supply base in its South China Sea islands for its carrier fleet to reduce the supply line which would be subject to interdiction by the enemy in times of conflict.
It is to be noted that China is already building its third aircraft carrier with a catapult launch system. It is believed that China might in future operate four to six carrier vessels modelled on the US carrier battle group. With increasing economic and political interest across the globe, PLAN’s carrier task force might in future form as the main tool for long distance power projection.