What Do We Know (so far) about China’s Second Aircraft Carrier?
Five years after commissioning its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, China launched its second carrier, the Shandong, on April 26, 2017. Unlike its Soviet-built predecessor, the Shandong is China’s first domestically built carrier. Both carriers are similar in size and use a STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) system for the launch and recovery of aircraft. Although similar to the Liaoning, the Shandong features some notable enhancements and represents an important step in China’s developing aircraft carrier program.
The Shandong was commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy on December 17, 2019, in Sanya on the island province of Hainan. Prior to being commissioned, the Shandong underwent nine sea trials over the course of 18 months. By comparison, the Liaoning, completed 10 sea trials in 13 months before being commissioned in September 2012. During construction and sea trials, the Shandong was known as the Type 001A; however, the December 2019 commissioning ceremony indicated that it is officially designated the Type 002.
Chinese aircraft carrier – Type 001A – Video
- The island of the Shandong is approximately 10 percent smaller than that of the Liaoning, which provides additional deck space.
- It displaces roughly 66,000 – 70,000 tons, a few thousand more tons than the Liaoning.
- It features the advanced Type 346 S-band AESA radar system.
- Its airwing is expected to be slightly larger than that of the Liaoning, featuring around 8 additional aircraft.
- The Shandong may have an internal arrangement that is better optimized than that of the Liaoning.
- The Shandong is limited to six days at sea before refueling, which is similar to the Liaoning.
- The Shandong reportedly underwent back-to-back sea trials in early August 2019, suggesting the vessel experienced technical problems during trials.
|Timeline of Key Events|
|November 2013||Construction begins|
|April 26, 2017||Launch|
|May 13 – May 18, 2018||First sea trial|
|August 26 – September 4, 2018||Second sea trial|
|September 11 – September 12, 2018||Arresting gear installed|
|September 14, 2018||Flight tests begin for J-15, Z-18, and Z-9|
|September 25, 2018||Installation of radio antenna|
|October 9, 2018||J-15D spotted on flight deck|
|October 28 – November 6, 2018||Third sea trial|
|December 27, 2018 – January 8, 2019||Fourth sea trial|
|February 27, 2019 – March 4, 2019||Fifth sea trial|
|May 14, 2019||Lane markings painted on flight deck, and replenishment drill|
|May 25 – 31, 2019||Sixth sea trial|
|August 1 – 4 and 6 – 22, 2019||Seventh sea trial|
|October 15 – 20, 2019||Eighth sea trial|
|November 14 – ?, 2019||Ninth sea trial and training exercises in the South China Sea|
|December 17, 2019||Commission into the PLA Navy|
Key Characteristics of the Shandong
|Carrier Type||Type 001||Type 002 (Previously Type 001A)|
|Displacement||60,000 – 66,000 tons||66,000 – 70,000 tons|
|Ski-jump inclination||14°||12° (TBC)|
18-24 J-15 fighters
17 Ka-28/Ka-31/Z-8S/Z-8JH/Z-8AEW helicopters
|TBD. It is expected that the Shandong will feature a slightly larger airwing than the Liaoning. An additional 4 fixed-wing aircraft or 8 helicopters is likely.|
|Complement||1,960 crew; 626 air group||TBD|
|Armament||3 × Type 1130 CIWS; 3 × HQ-10 SAM (18-Cell); 2 RBU-6000 ASW rocket launchers and flare/chaff rocket launchers||TBD. Likely similar to the Liaoning|
|Radar||Type 346 S-band AESA||Type 346A S-band AESA|
|Propulsion||Conventional steam turbines with diesel generators||Conventional steam turbines with diesel generators|
|Cruising Speed||29 knots||31 knots (expected)|
|All information is subject to change. Figures for the Shandong are likely to change as more information becomes available. Details of the Liaoning sourced from The Military Balance. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any relevant information.|
Explore the Liaoning
The Shandong shares several similarities with the Liaoning. Explore our 3D model of the Liaoning on our feature page.