China to build six aircraft carriers by 2020

Two type 054A missile frigates and two type 051C missile destroyers at aircraft carrier port. Source:

Two type 054A missile frigates and two type 051C missile destroyers at aircraft carrier port. Source:

Elite Reference magazine says in its report Frigates of Chinese aircraft carrier battle group secretly assembled at the military port for aircraft carriers, “The Soviet aircraft carrier Ulyanovsk, though failed to be commissioned, leaves experience and lessons which may provide China reference in China’s pursuit of nuclear aircraft carriers.”

I have revealed in my posts that China’s first aircraft carrier the Liaoning has recently set sail for the sea for training, especially landing and taking-off of aircrafts on it, and that China has begun research projects for the development of its own nuclear aircraft carriers.

Please refer to my posts: “China: Aircraft Carrier Sets Out for Landing and Taking-off Training on the Sea” on June 12 and “China: PLA on course for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers” on February 22”.

Elite Reference magazine says, “There has been analysis that China will carry out its plan for aircraft carrier construction by stages. At the first stage, four conventional carriers will be built; while at the second stage, at least two nuclear carriers will be built. They are expected to be delivered to Chinese navy around 2020.”

It says that according to Hong Kong’s Asia & Pacific Defence Quarterly, the Soviet Union completed the design of its nuclear aircraft carrier Ulyanovsk, which was dismantled halfway in construction due to lack of funds. However, they had already completed building two of its four nuclear reactors by that time.

The magazine is of the opinion that China cannot obtain technical information about a nuclear aircraft carrier from the West. However,  Russia and Ukraine, where the Ulyanovsk was built, can teach China how to build a nuclear aircraft carrier based on their experience in building the Ulyanovsk.

China will certainly want such expertise from them. As both Russia and Ukraine are under economic pressure and have strategic demands, it is very difficult for a third party to prevent the two countries from providing China with assistance.

Source: Elite Reference “Frigates of Chinese aircraft carrier battle group secretly assembled at the military port for aircraft carriers” (summary and excerpts translated from Chinese by Chan Kai Yee)

Categories: Defence & Aerospace

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9 replies

  1. We’ll see about the new carriers. The truth is that China would lose in any attempt to build local carrier superiority, between the Japanese (who now building helicopter carriers, foreshadowing their willingness and ability to build larger carriers), the Americans and the Indians. This could be a very expensive arms race all around, and in the end, China’s one real overseas strategic interest, the trade routes between Africa and the Malacca Strait, will be no less vulnerable than they ever were.


  2. China is doing great, they will soon be a super power of the world


  3. Highly unlikely that they will have 6 new carriers by 2020. China is only right now learning to even use one singular carrier but this story would lead you to believe that they will have 6 more by 2020. It takes the US quite some time to build just one but China is going to have 6 new ones in 8 yrs., not realistic.



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