The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s Type 002 CV-17 aircraft carrier and a Type 052D destroyer transited the Taiwanese Strait today, making passage near the Kinmen Islands. The two ships are being shadowed by a United States Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer: the USS Ralph Johnson.
The Shandong is China’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier, launched in April 2017. It retains the ski-jump takeoff, which limits its air wing to helicopters and Shenyang 32x J-15 fighter jets of the People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force. The ship is powered by conventional oil-fired boilers driving eight steam turbines derived from the Soviet-designed examples installed on Liaoning.
The Shandong is a significant improvement over the Soviet-built Liaoning. For example, the Shandong carrier’s ski-jump has an angle of 12.0° instead of the 14.0° on the Liaoning. However, it still relies on the short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) launch and recovery system. Under a STOBAR system, aircraft launch under their own power using a ski-jump to assist take-off (rather than using a catapult, which would make it a CATOBAR). However, the planes are conventional rather than STOVL aircraft and thus require arrestor wires to land on the ship. The STOBAR system is simpler to build than CATOBAR. Unlike the Type 003 Chinese Carrier which will use Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS).
The presence of the Shandong in the Strait is an out-of-area deployment since it is homeported in Sanya, Hainan Island, South China Sea. US President Biden is still expected to hold a planned phone call tonight with Chinese President Xi Jinping.