China’s second aircraft carrier can carry at least 36 domestically developed J-15 fighter jets, some 50 percent more than the country’s first, China’s state broadcaster reported.
China’s first aircraft carrier the Liaoning can carry 24 J-15 fighter jets, China Central Television (CCTV) reported, noting the new ship’s increased number of jets will add to its capability.
Although the second carrier known as the Type 001A is similar to the Liaoning, it has an optimized flight deck, reduced weapon areas and a smaller superstructure with added deck areas, Li Jie, a Beijing naval expert, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Li noted that it also has an enlarged hangar, but reduced space for missile storage compared to the Liaoning.
These extra areas allow the new carrier to carry 50 percent more J-15 fighter jets, Li said.
The 24 J-15s of the Liaoning could be a limiting factor as regional combat might require about 40 aircraft to seize air supremacy, Li said. The 36 jets on the Type 001A would expand its combat capability, he said.
In addition to the 36 J-15 fighter jets, the Type 001A can carry other types of aircraft including helicopters, Chinese analysts said.
The US operates much larger aircraft carriers, including the Nimitz class which can carry about 60 aircraft, while the country’s latest Ford class can carry about 75.
Hu Wenming, chairman of China Shipbuilding Industry Corp. and head of China’s aircraft carrier program, said “China now has a mature development and construction team, and the average age of team members is only 36,” CCTV reported.
“Whatever type of aircraft carrier our country wants to develop in the future, we can make it on our own,” Hu said.
The team can build any other type of warship given its expertise, Hu noted.