The Type 001A, often incorrectly referred to as the Type 002, is the People’s Republic of China's (PRC) first indigenously designed and produced aircraft carrier. The Shandong (山东舰), the only vessel of the class, officially entered service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in 2019. Some analysts claim that due to the Type 001A’s similarities to the older Type 001, the ship is not a major improvement or development. Such a belief, however, would be incorrect. With new phased array radars, a larger carrier air wing, better defensive armament, and modernized command and control (C2) systems, the Shandong is much more lethal and versatile than its older sibling.
Country: People's Republic of China
Entered Service: 2019
Deployment Endurance: 95 Days
Fixed Wing Aircraft: J-15
Helicopters: Z-18F, Z-18J, Z-9X, Z-20
Armament: 30MM Type 1130 CIWS (3X), HHQ-10 Short Range Air Defense Missile System (3X)
Max Speed: 31 Knots
Steam Turbines: 200,000 SHP (4X)
Length: 315 M
Draught: 11 M
Beam: 72 M
Displacement (Full Load): 64,000 Tons
The Shandong’s sharpest teeth come from its Shenyang J-15 fighter aircraft. Despite the fact that the PLAN’s fighter pilot corps is relatively young and inexperienced, they have proven eager to learn and relatively effective in the airframe. The carrier’s use of a ski ramp instead of an electromagnetic (EMALS) or steam catapult continues to be an issue, as it limits the amount of fuel and weapons the airframes can carry. Until the PLAN develops the skill needed to utilize such technologies, the types of aircraft capable of flying off the carrier's deck and the missions they are able to perform will be constrained.
The Shandong also utilizes Z-8, Z-20F Seahawk, and Ka-31 helicopters for airborne early warning (AEW) and anti-submarine warfare missions.
Defensive Armament & Armor
When threats pierce the combat air patrols surrounding the carrier, the Type 001A is able to put up quite the fight. With a total of 54 HHQ-10 (FL-3000N) surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and three 30MM Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) platforms, the Shandong can address multiple targets when they get too close for comfort. For surface or sub-surface targets, the carrier must rely on her air wing and escorts for protection.
The Type 001A also has several defensive measures not commonly found on modern aircraft carriers. For example, the ammunition magazines and fuel bunkers are protected on all sides by armor. Below the surface, the hull has been rumored to make use of "enhanced protection systems" to defend the vessel from UDT sabotage or torpedoes.
Although the exact type of propulsion system utilized by the Shandong has never confirmed by the government in Beijing, The Intelligence Ledger assesses that the Type 001A is powered by a conventional steam turbine arrangement that makes use of diesel engines for cruising and gas turbines for rapid movement. According to the Department of Defense and Defense Intelligence Agency, the Shandong boasts a top speed of 31 knots and maximum range of 3,910 nautical miles (NMI).