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Satellite Imagery Shows Three Chinese Aircraft Carriers Simultaneously

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On June 3rd, ImageSat released rare satellite imagery showing 3 separate Chinese carriers, the Type 001, the Type 001A and presumably the Type 002.

The third aircraft carrier is still shrouded in mystery, as there has been no official confirmation by the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

In November 2018, state-run Xinhua News Agency on its WeChat page reported that China began work on its third aircraft carrier.

No other details were provided, only that it was a “new-generation carrier.” The China Daily outlet claimed that he China State Shipbuilding Corp’s Jiangnan Shipyard Group in Shanghai is building a “bigger and mightier” than the Liaoning and the second carrier.

Regardless, these satellite images mark the second time activity on the presumed third aircraft carrier was reported within two months.

In early May 2019, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington released commercial satellite imagery, dated April 17th, showing significant activity at the Jiangnan Shipyard, compared to an analysis from October 2018.

Satellite Imagery Shows Three Chinese Aircraft Carriers Simultaneously

Click to see full-size image

Satellite Imagery Shows Three Chinese Aircraft Carriers Simultaneously

Click to see full-size image

Satellite Imagery Shows Three Chinese Aircraft Carriers Simultaneously

Click to see full-size image

Satellite Imagery Shows Three Chinese Aircraft Carriers Simultaneously

Click to see full-size image

It is yet unclear whether the new aircraft carrier would have nuclear-powered or conventional propulsion. Most commonly it’s speculated that it is going to have conventional propulsion and have a different launch type.

It is expected to be bigger than both the Type 001 Liaoning and the unnamed Type 001A, which is expected to complete all of its sea trials and be commissioned in 2019.

Satellite Imagery Shows Three Chinese Aircraft Carriers Simultaneously

Click to see full-size image

According to the US Department of Defense 2019 report on Chinese capabilities, China began construction of its second domestically built aircraft carrier in 2018, which will likely be larger and fitted with a catapult launch system. This design will enable it to support additional fighter aircraft, fixed-wing early-warning aircraft, and more rapid flight operations. China’s second domestically built carrier is projected to be operational by 2022.

In June 2018, the alleged design of the Type 002 was “accidentally” revealed on a photograph showing the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation’s boardroom. On a photograph on its wall.

“A photograph published on social media by one of the companies that develops China’s aircraft carriers appears to suggest that the latest vessel will be equipped with a catapult launch system, unlike either of its predecessors.

China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) uploaded the picture on Wednesday, the state-backed tabloid Global Times reported, although it was taken down later the same day.

The image –which appeared to be an artist’s impression rather than an actual photograph –showed China’s Type 002 carrier – the country’s third carrier and second to be domestically developed –with a flat flight deck installed with three catapult-like devices.

The image was apparently a snapshot of a large poster that hangs on a wall inside CSIC’s boardroom,” SCMP reported back in June 2018.

Apart from the satellite images and an artist impression, the only conclusive information about the Type 002 is that the state-owned Xinhua news agency reported work was being carried out on the aircraft carrier. Other than that, everything else in relation to the indigenous Chinese warship remains a mystery.

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