Editor’s Note: China continues to pursue its goal of dominating the maritime battlespace in the South China Sea, embodied by the construction of a second, more sophisticated aircraft carrier. The updated design should allow the ship to carry more fighters, an airborne early-warning and control platform, an anti-submarine warfare platform, and several helicopters.

“The Chinese Navy currently has one operational aircraft carrier but is building another, which will be larger and equipped with J-15 fighter jets, among other aircraft,” Yin Zhuo, chairman of the consulting committee of the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy, was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.

His statement came a few months after the Chinese Defense Ministry officially announced that work on the construction of a second carrier had begun in the port of Dalian. Earlier, there had been reports in the media that China was building a second aircraft carrier, but these weren’t officially confirmed by the authorities.

According to Yin Zhuo, the new carrier will have a more sophisticated design that will enable it to carry more weapons, fighters and fuel, thereby enhancing its sea endurance and ability to conduct combat operations.

China: Second Aircraft Carrier Being Built
In this undated photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a carrier-borne J-15 fighter jet lands on China’s first carrier, the Liaoning. (Photo courtesy of AP/Xinhua)

In addition, the carrier will be equipped with an early warning patrol plane, an anti-submarine aircraft and helicopters designed for evacuation-related purposes.

China’s sole aircraft carrier is the Liaoning, a 55,000-ton vessel which was launched in Soviet Ukraine in 1988. First known as the Riga and later the Varyag, the unfinished cruiser was refitted in China before entering service in September 2012. The ship was renamed after the Chinese province of Liaoning, where the docks of the port city of Dalian are located.

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(Featured photo courtesy of Associated Press/Xinhua)