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Politics

China likely to deploy third aircraft carrier by 2025: report

New vessel to feature launch system for greater plane capacity

China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, takes part in a military drill in the western Pacific Ocean during 2018.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- China is expected to put a third and more advanced aircraft carrier into service by 2025 as the country seeks to modernize its military under its next five-year plan.

The new carrier likely will boast the first electromagnetic catapult system in China's fleet, an upgrade that lets it launch planes more efficiently, the English-language version of the Communist Party-affiliated Global Times reported Tuesday.

The warship would mark another milestone in Beijing's efforts to build a global military. To maintain aircraft carriers in constant deployment, a country is said to need a minimum of three to allow for maintenance and crew training.

The U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers deployed around the world.

The new carrier is likely part of the Communist Party's five-year plan through 2025 hammered out in October, the Global Times said, citing military analysts.

China just last year commissioned the Shandong, the country's second carrier and the first of its kind built domestically. The Liaoning, based on a Soviet design, entered active service in 2012.

The third aircraft carrier is expected to hit the water around 2021 and feature electromagnetic catapults, which make more space available on the deck.

This would allow the new carrier to hold more aircraft fuel and weapons, and to carry bombers and early warning aircraft. The Shandong uses an upward-curved ski-jump takeoff configuration.

The Global Times also reported that China's cutting-edge stealth strategic bomber, dubbed H-20, likely will be deployed by 2025.

The H-20, said to resemble the U.S. B-2 stealth bomber, is thought capable of carrying nuclear weapons with a range of 8,500 km -- putting U.S. military bases in Hawaii at risk.

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