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China The Military Technology

Satellite Spots China's First Aircraft Carrier 449

Hugh Pickens writes "Commercial satellite company DigitalGlobe Inc. has announced that it has an image of the People's Republic of China's first functional aircraft carrier, taken during the carrier's first sea trials in the Yellow Sea. The carrier was originally meant for the Soviet navy, but its construction was halted as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and engineers in the Ukraine disarmed it and removed its engines before selling it to China in 1998 for $20 million. The vessel, an Admiral Kuznetsov class aircraft carrier measuring 304.5 meters long, and having a displacement of 58,500 tons, has been refitted for research and training in China. The Ministry of National Defense says the steam-powered aircraft carrier has completed all refitting and testing work as scheduled after its first sea trial in mid-August, and was heading back out to sea for additional scientific research and experiments. According to Andrew S. Erickson at the US Naval War College, China's long term strategic dilemma is whether to focus on large-deck aviation or on submarines (PDF)."
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Satellite Spots China's First Aircraft Carrier

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  • by the linux geek ( 799780 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:24PM (#38386788)
    The US uses steam catapults, which are even better but are more expensive and are fairly involved to design.
  • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:26PM (#38386828)

    Better to have your nose straight at Vstall, than have your angle of attack inclined at Vstall. Ski-jumps don't work for heavier ASW/AWACS aircraft, and they deprie you of landing space for helicopters.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:30PM (#38386888)

    Ramps limit the types and weight of aircraft and external loads. Anything a ramp can do a flat-top can do. The reverse is not true. The US navy has never accepted that compromise.

  • by roothog ( 635998 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:32PM (#38386926)

    The US uses steam catapults, which are even better but are more expensive and are fairly involved to design.

    Ford class carriers (2 currently under construction) will use magnetic launch rather than steam launch.

  • by roothog ( 635998 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:38PM (#38387022)

    Reagan-class aircraft carriers.

    Such a thing does not exist. The new class of carrier is Ford class. The USS Ronald Reagan is Nimitz class.

  • by damiangerous ( 218679 ) <> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:42PM (#38387082)

    Large, heavy aircraft cannot take off from ski jumps. That makes them mostly unsuitable for US carriers as the Super Hornet is one of the mainstays of the airborne fleet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:45PM (#38387138)
    read page 12.

  • Re:Steam powered? (Score:4, Informative)

    by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:50PM (#38387218) Homepage
    If they didn't stuff a nuclear reactor in it, they are probably burning Heavy Fuel Oil [], sometimes referred to as Bunker C. It is a heavy oil which needs to be heated before you can even pump it. HFO is the nasty stuff left over after you refine the gasoline, diesel, and other useful oils out of crude. It burns dirty, but at sea nobody cares. In port, some countries/ports make you switch to marine diesel to improve the air quality. I didn't check, but I doubt China is concerned with burning HFO in their ports.
  • by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:51PM (#38387224)

    The ford is designed with more powerful nuclear reactors to provide for the magnetic launchers, and potentially rail guns and directed energy weapons. Yes. This will be bad-ass.

  • Russia operates Mig-29s and Su-33s off of carriers with ski jumps - and the Su-33 is heavier than a Superhornet.

    The USMC also doesn't use a ski jump for it's AV-8B carrier platforms, despite that aircraft operating very well off of the UKs (now retired), Indian and Italian ski jump equipped carriers. It's an operational decision taken by US military planners rather than a limitation with the design, as the RAF GR.7 and GR.9s could launch with a heavier weight than the Marines aircraft because of that ski jump.

  • Re:Aircraft carriers (Score:4, Informative)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:01PM (#38387392)

    Carriers provide force projection, e.g. intimidation of smaller militaries by sending a capital ship and battle group in their direction.

    As I said, they're only of use if the other side can't shoot back. Otherwise they'll be scrap on the sea-bed within a few days.

    Even the British carriers in the Falklands only survived because the Argentian Air Force ran out of Exocets.

  • by Zcar ( 756484 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:04PM (#38387428)

    Not exactly. The Soviet Union classified them as aviation cruiser for treaty reasons (Montreux Convention, 1936: aircraft carriers aren't allowed through the Dardanelles). At about 65,000 tons full load, it's larger than the French de Gaulle and roughly equivalent the the Royal Navy's planned carriers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:09PM (#38387534)

    The US has more aircraft carriers than the rest of the entire world combined. China's one ancient soviet carrier is nothing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:17PM (#38387690)

    Or a collection of cheap boats and planes any corporation could afford:!


    "But what van Ripen did to the US fleet...that's something very different. He was given nothing but small planes and ships-fishing boats, patrol boats, that kind of thing. He kept them circling around the edges of the Persian Gulf aimlessly, driving the Navy crazy trying to keep track of them. When the Admirals finally lost patience and ordered all planes and ships to leave, van Ripen had them all attack at once. And they sank two-thirds of the US fleet.

    That should scare the hell out of everybody who cares about how well the US is prepared to fight its next war. It means that a bunch of Cessnas, fishing boats and assorted private craft, crewed by good soldiers and armed with anti-ship missiles, can destroy a US aircraft carrier. That means that the hundreds of trillions (yeah, trillions) of dollars we've invested in shipbuilding is wasted, worthless.

    So a crafty commander and a small collection of cheap aircraft and vessels could sink your carrier.

  • by damiangerous ( 218679 ) <> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:26PM (#38387876)

    Russia operates Mig-29s and Su-33s off of carriers with ski jumps - and the Su-33 is heavier than a Superhornet.

    But they can't be loaded to full weight when launching off a ramp. they needs to be either light on armament or be air refueled.

    Smaller carriers that only use VSTOL aircraft could benefit from a ski jump, I don't know why it hasn't been implemented there.

  • Re:Ukraine (Score:4, Informative)

    by sysrammer ( 446839 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:48PM (#38388290) Homepage

    Slavic languages do not have articles.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:49PM (#38388308)

    Wrong. The electromagnetic catapults [] are powered by an energy storage subsystem:

    The induction motor requires a large amount of electric energy in just a few seconds - more than the ship's own power source can provide. EMALS' energy-storage subsystem draws power from the ship and stores it kinetically on rotors of four disk alternators. Each rotor can store more than 100 megajoules, and can be recharged within 45 seconds of a launch, faster than steam catapults.

    The larger reactors are likely for the 'all-electric' ships that the Navy plans on building. It is less efficient to convert steam energy to kinetic energy to electric energy to kinetic energy than it is to convert steam energy to kinetic energy, as would be the case with the main engines, which use the majority of the reactor's power.

  • by ericloewe ( 2129490 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:57PM (#38388448)
    Also more efficient. I think they're around 20% efficient, compared to steam catapults that only manage ~2% efficiency. They're also far easier to control: You can have a controlled acceleration instead of a huge acceleration that quickly drops, launch smaller, lighter stuff (a steam catapult won't work at "half power", so if you tried to launch an UAV, it would be ripped apart by the catapult operating at full power). Of course, the coolness of any object is automatically improved by adding magnets, so you get that added bonus.
  • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:13PM (#38388738) Homepage Journal

    The USS Nimitz was named after Flt. Adm. Chester Nimitz who died in 1966 and is the only US military vessel ever to be named after him so far as I can find. A single vessel doesn't make for a tradition.

  • by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:45PM (#38389270) Journal

    I suspect part of the reduced stress comes from not having most of the acceleration at the start, as the magnetic rail allows for the same amount of force to be applied along the whole distance.

  • by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:49PM (#38389356)

    Learn some fucking facts. Seriously.

    The US debt is a little over 15T(Trillion). China holds 1.134T. That's 7.5%

    China holds a meager 7.5% SEVEN POINT FIVE PERCENT of the US debt. That's it. Japan, the next highest creditor, holds 6.4%.

    The grand total of all foreign debt is 4.6T. That's 30% of all the US debt.

    Foreign countries -- all of them -- hold THIRTY PERCENT of the US Debt. The rest is owed to the US, either to the Federal Reserve or the US public.

    Here are the stats on foreign ownership of the US debt. []

  • by rabenja ( 919226 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:10PM (#38389774) Journal
    Having been in the Navy for 14 years I do not see China being able to operate a carrier effectively for a decade at least. First you need to have planes an pilots that can land on one, then you have to be learn how to replenish at sea (*not* an easy task), then you need a grunch of ships and submarines to protect the carrier, not to mention operations for achieving that, and of course the entire logistics and training infrastructure to pull the whole thing off.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:01PM (#38390650)

    The switch from steam to electric components (in a number of applications) is actually a very big deal. Electrical cabling is easier (read: cheaper) to install and maintain than pressure-rated steam piping, which can kill people if it fails. Remember, these ships serve for over 40 years in highly corrosive environments, and they require a *lot* of maintenance. Another area of interest for electrification is propulsion. When a nuclear plant produces steam, you have to run it through a turbine to create useful work. A single turbine can drive a propeller shaft or a generator, but not both. There's not enough space on a combat ship for full-size turbines that can turn *all* the steam to electricity when you're just floating, and then another set to drive the ship at full speed. By powering the propeller shaft with a motor instead of a turbine, you can run all your steam through turbine generators regardless of propulsion demand. You'll have a lot more electricity available than before, and you can use it for whatever you want. (Insert imagination here.) The Navy experimented with electric drive submarines during the Cold War (SSN597 USS Tullibee and SSN-685 USS Glenard P. Lipscomb), and improvements in electrical actuators means we're teetering on the brink of replacing a lot of traditional steam and hydraulic components with electromechanical.

  • Re:Ukraine (Score:5, Informative)

    by swalve ( 1980968 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @09:49PM (#38392574)
    The Ukrainians are pissed about that because they were a regular old country called Ukraine until the Soviets took them over and converted them into a region rather than a state. It was an emasculation of sorts, and when they got their autonomy back, they preferred to be called by the correct name. Same thing with Yukon in Canada. "The Yukon" was a region, and then it became the Province of Yukon, or just Yukon.

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