The China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation announced on Tuesday a list of ambitions it hopes to achieve in weaponry and technical developments for the People's Liberation Army-Navy by 2025, the state-backed Global Times reported.
The defense company said it will "speed the up the process of making technological breakthroughs in nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, new-type nuclear submarines, quiet submarines, maritime unmanned intelligent confrontation systems, maritime three-dimensional offensive and defensive systems and naval warfare comprehensive electronic information systems," according to the Global Times.
It was the first time a Chinese defense firm revealed that a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was on its list of priorities, the Global Time notes, adding that the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation "removed the sentence involving nuclear-powered vessels from the announcement on its site." It's unclear why this action was taken.
For now, China's navy has two aircraft carriers running on conventional oil. The French Navy's flagship, the Charles de Gaulle, is the only non-US aircraft carrier powered by nuclear reactors. Each Nimitz-class and Ford-class carrier in the US Navy is or will be run by nuclear power.
China's ambition is to have four carrier groups operating with the People's Liberation Army-Navy by 2030. The Liaoning is currently the only carrier in the fleet, but the Type 001A is expected to go into full service by the end of 2018. The Type 001A was the first aircraft carrier built by shipyard workers in China, yet China is already at work building its third domestically produced carrier. The Liaoning is derived from an old and unfinished Soviet hull Beijing purchased from Ukraine, the Varyag, which was to have become a Kuznetsov-class carrier before the Soviet Union was dissolved.