11:46 GMT +321 June 2018
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    A statue of Wu Daguan who is known as the 'Father of China's military and civilian aviation industry' beside a Chinese produced J-10 fighter jet in Beijing

    China Progresses With Aircraft Carrier Support Capabilities

    © AFP 2018 / Mark RALSTON
    Asia & Pacific
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    China continues its investment in its aircraft carrier program by constructing a second Daguan-class auxiliary ship. The vessel, called the Xu Xiake (pennant number 88), was first introduced into service in 2011 and has traveled alongside the Liaoning on sea trials.

    Ships in the Daguan class are about 196 meters long, with a beam of 6 meters, and a full load displacement estimated at 30,000 tons. The watercraft have the look of passenger ships and can accommodate up to 2,500 personnel. Their primary function is to accompany aircraft carriers. 

    Above the ship’s aft superstructure is a flight deck, with the capability of operating a medium-sized helicopter like the Super Frelon-derived Z-8, which can carry 27 passengers.

    The People's Liberation Army Navy's (PLAN's) new Type 901 large combat support vessel has reached an advanced stage of development. The ship is expected to supply underway logistics to the PLAN aircraft carriers. The first Type 901 was launched in December 2015, and is currently under construction at the Longxue shipyard of Guangzhou Shipbuilding International (GSI).

    New photos of the ship’s progress show sensors and weapons installed with four AK-630 close-in weapon system mountings, as well as radomes for satcom antennas in position. It’s expected that the vessel will be propelled by gas turbine engines and should displace over 4,000 tons. 

    Installed on the port side of the ship are four replenishment gantries, and three on the starboard side. The second gantry each side will be used for solid material transfers, including ammunition, stores and food, while the rest are used for liquids including aviation fuel, water, and oil.

    A group of six pilots have qualified to fly Shenyang J-15 fighters from carriers and have been presented with awards by Vice Admiral Ding Yi, Deputy Commander of the Navy at a ceremony aboard the Liaoning, according to Chinese military media.

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