The Chinese navy is moving ahead with plans to build another aircraft carrier, but plans for a fifth have been put on hold for now, according to military insiders. They said that technical challenges and high costs had put the brakes on the programme and the recent merger of the country’s two major shipbuilders was unlikely to have a significant short-term impact.
The country currently has just one active carrier, the Liaoning – a refitted Soviet-era vessel – but the first homebuilt carrier, the Type 001, is undergoing sea trials and may soon be ready for service. Work on the more modern Type 002 carrier started two years ago and a naval source said construction on the second Type 002 could start as early as 2021.
But plans for a next-generation carrier appear to be on hold for now as engineers struggle to overcome technical problems. “There is no plan to build more aircraft carriers,” said one military source.