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Recent commercial satellite imagery reveals that China has made substantial progress in the construction of its third aircraft carrier, commonly known as the Type 003. The vessel is slated to become the largest surface combatant in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and significantly upgrade China’s naval capabilities.
Work on the Type 003 has been underway at Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai since at least late 2018. Over the last several months, prefabricated components of the vessel’s hull have been assembled. Satellite imagery from May 30, 2021, shows that the flight deck is now partially complete. While much remains to be done, close analysis of the Type 003’s status offers key insights about its configuration.