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China’s Long Term Aircraft Carrier Plan “Project 048” Revealed

Well-known Hong Kong pro-mainland TV station and news site Phoenix New Media recently reported on some leaked information on China’s “Project 048,” which is China’s roadmap plan for developing its aircraft carriers. The project was finalized in August of 2004; hence the name “048.” According to the leaked roadmap, the carrier building plan consists of three phases. Phase one is to build two mid-sized carriers within 10 years; phase two is to build two large scale carriers in the next 10 years; phase three involves building large nuclear-powered carriers. The ultimate goal is to have 10 carriers by the year 2049. A model “001A” carrier is almost completed and will soon be launched in the city of Dalian. The building process on the Model “002” carriers started in 2015. They are large scale ships still using conventional power and a catapult take-off. Model “003” carriers aim to be the equivalent of the U.S. nuclear-powered Nimitz-class carriers. According to Project 048, China is improving its steam catapult so that it is one third more efficient than the U.S. equivalent. It is estimated that the Chinese Model “003” nuclear carrier will have electromagnetic catapult take-off capabilities on the same level as the U.S. Ford-class, and will launch in the year 2030. At the current pace of parallel design and building of multiple models, the year 2030 target should be reached three years earlier.

Source: Phoenix New Media, January 17, 2017