I think what he meant is relative to F35C Super Hornet is an older model which would likely retired before the intended F35C.Are you sure superhornet is retired? You mean regular hornet?
Back to 055, I won’t be surprised to see small drones on the flight deck in the future. Does that mean China doesn’t care about conventional naval helicopters?
One thing we all agree on is that the whole indigenous Chinese helicopter industry is relatively behind compare to its ship building. Nobody is denying this fact. But, I for one wouldn’t mind to see China’s ship building is way ahead of its other industry. It has always been the case in recent Chinese history. Even Deng famously said in the 80s that “let few get rich first” despite China was officially a communist country at that time. If you can do it, you simply don’t wait for the others. That’s how rightly or wrongly China caught up and even surpass the west in certainly areas.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if China would go ahead with medium to large sized drone based naval helicopters earlier than the west. Just look at its quick adoption of cashless payment. The whole country barely got use to credit and debit cards, now it’s all cashless, even for the street beggars!