China launches 2nd aircraft carrier to boost military power
On April 26, 2017, China launched its second aircraft carrier, the first to be built in China. The name of the ship is not yet known, but it is rumored to be "Shangdong," according to Popular Science.
This is a "big leap" for China's military, according to CNBC, but the carrier will probably not enter the Chinese fleet until 2019 or 2020.
By comparison, the United States currently has "19 ships that could be called aircraft carriers, but only considers 10 to be actual carriers," according to thediplomat.com. The United States also has two additional supercarriers which will be in commission by 2025.
According to the New York Times, however, the "launch conveyed that China intended to build a navy that could not be beaten by other Asian countries." This is important since the country has recently come into conflict with Japan, India, Australia, and other Asian neighbors over territory and other disputes. China is also involved, of course, in the nuclear conflict between the United States and North Korea.
Largely based on China's first aircraft carrier, the Soviet-designed Liaoning, the new ship will carry and launch about 30 J-15 fighter jets, also known as "Flying Sharks," according to Popular Science. The ship will also likely be armed with three FL-3000 "Flying Leopard" missile launchers and three 30mm cannons for air defense.
While lacking a catapult for launching aircraft, the carrier has a SKI-JUMP-style deck like its predecessor, the Liaoning. Also, instead of having nuclear power, it will use regular steam propulsion. The carrier comes in at 992 feet long, just short of the 1,092 feet of the American Nimitz class carriers.