China’s most advanced aircraft carrier, the Type 003, wasn’t launched last Friday as was expected. 

China scheduled the launch of its most advanced Type 003 aircraft carrier last Friday at the beginning of China’s Dragon Boat Festival. The carrier is equipped with cutting-edge equipment and technology. However, the launch was delayed without any apparent reason. 

Authorities reported a deep excavation project of the Jiangnan shipbuilding company would be postponed to June 30, citing “operational needs.”

According to South China Morning Post, there might be technical problems related to the next phase of the vessel’s construction.

Unlike the nation’s two first carriers, the Liaoning and Shandong, Type 003 is equipped with more advanced technology, including electromagnetic launch catapults that will allow it to field aircraft with heavier payloads and more fuel. 

Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canada-based Kanwa Asian Defence Monthly, said the Type 003 might take up to 10 years to become a fully operational combat platform. Chang said, [quote] “Compared with the Liaoning and Shandong ships, as well as other warships built by PLA warship contractor shipbuilders in Dalian and Guangzhou, I believe the quality and workmanship on Type 003 will be much better,”…. “The conscientiousness of Shanghai workers has helped the yard win many orders at home and overseas.” [end quote]

However, according to Lu Li-Shih, a former instructor at the Taiwanese Naval Academy, [quote] “The launch of Type 003 just means the part of construction works inside the dry dock is complete, and is expected to kick off another new phase of more comprehensive outfitting works if no problems with leaks are found,” and that, “The outfitting works will involve countless tests … meaning the Type 003 will stay in dock for a while before it goes to sea for trials.” [end quote]

The launch has been long anticipated and constitutes what the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank called a “seminal moment in China’s ongoing modernization efforts and a symbol of the country’s growing military might.” 

China’s naval forces now number around 360 vessels, plus hundreds of maritime militia vessels. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy has fewer than 300 vessels, with several slated for decommissioning in the coming years. 

Frank Kendall, U.S. Air Force Secretary, said China’s military was developing its force to overcome U.S. forces and eject the American presence from the western Pacific.

Some people think the launch date could be July 1, which is the anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.

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