STARTLING images lay bare the colossal size of China’s largest ever aircraft carrier in Beijing’s bid to become the world’s leading superpower.
Satellite imagery shows the 90,000-tonne vessel taking shape in a Shanghai shipyard which matches the largest supercarriers in the US Navy.
Before 2012, China did not have any aircraft carriers.
But the ship under construction — named the Type 003 — will be China’s third carrier and part of an attempt to modernise and expand its military under a five-year plan.
The Communist nation is expanding its military to match the US, and wants to become more powerful than the Americans by 2049.
New commercial satellite imagery from Kompsat offers experts to analyze the size and layout.
Navy News reported the vessel is 240 feet wide and 1,050 feet long which is just 43 feet shorter than the American Ford Class ships.
It has three catapults to launch its warplanes which are believed to be a new stealth fighter the FC-31.
And large overhangs show that the supercarrier’s flight deck are in place while the simple bullet-like outline of the ship’s hull can be seen.
It appears to have two large, side-mounted aircraft elevators on the right side and photos suggest it will be fitted with catapults, with which large numbers of combat aircraft can be slung into the air.
Chinese state-run media reports these catapults to be advanced electromagnetic devices in the same league as USS Ford with two on the bow and one on the left overhang.
Work began amid much speculation in 2018. Since then, analysts and internet ‘open source’ aficionados have been pouring over every fuzzy new satellite photo and combing social media in search of new clues.
And they prove the ship is on track to be launched next year, with a likely operational date as soon as 2024.
It comes amid ongoing tensions between China and the West over control of the South China Sea as well as China’s clampdown on human rights in Hong Kong and its handling of the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
States including China, Taiwan, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam make claims to parts of the South China Sea, with various others keen to maintain access to the area’s shipping lanes.
An estimated $3.4trillion worth of global trade passes through the sea each year, accounting for around one-third of all global maritime trade