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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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  • Brilliant! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:39PM (#38387036)
    This was a brilliant move on China's part. A cold war is about making the other country spend too much money so that it least that's basically what happened in the last cold war right? China spends 20 million on a ship...let's pretend they double that cost refitting it so maybe $40 million, and this will be used as an excuse for congresscritters to approve billions more in spending that we don't have on "defense."
  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:45PM (#38387132)

    They've got thousands of young unemployed engineers, recent advances in the design of hulls and they invest in um, the height of Ukranian technology (OK, maybe borrowed Russian technology). Surely they could have done much better starting from scratch.

    Three gorges dam is another strange project. Yes, you can build ONE BIG DAM or 1 hundred little ones that are cheaper, achieve better flood control, yield as much or more power and are easier to dredge when they silt up. And if one of a hundred dams break, it's not as big a deal. If the three gorges dam breaks, we have a real problem.

  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Manfre ( 631065 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:46PM (#38387160) Homepage Journal

    We'll just continue to spend China's money. They can't win the cold war if they're paying for both sides of it!

  • Aircraft carriers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:47PM (#38387170)

    If you're fighting a real enemy who can shoot back, a carrier fleet is just a target-rich environment for cheap missiles. This is the modern equivalent of building battleships before WWII only to see them sunk by cheap aircraft.

  • by Sez Zero ( 586611 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:47PM (#38387176) Journal

    Does it really matter? Are we expecting WW3 anytime soon?

    You can't rattle your saber if you don't have a saber!

    And nuclear powered mobile military bases are great for rattling

  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:53PM (#38387254)

    AC is a fool.

    There is at least one fast attack shadowing this ship already.

  • Re:Backed by (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geckipede ( 1261408 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:58PM (#38387360)
    If the daily mail ran a headline claiming that two times three equalled six, I'd double check on my fingers before believing them.
  • by Truekaiser ( 724672 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:02PM (#38387408)

    but considering they now are the source of a lot of stuff made in the world. if their leader went out and said. "i want 20 more in less then ten years" they will be able to build them in less then 5. and it takes us what about 2 to 3 years to build a single one of ours?

    congratulations, the united states is like the early ww2 german war machine. were more advanced but it takes longer for us to build our tanks, ships, and planes while our enemies will be able in a short while replace that one much cheaper and faster made one with 2 or more every time we knock one down.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:03PM (#38387420)

    Going to magnetic launchers just hints to me, a totally uninformed boob, that the principal contractor wanted to drive up the costs in order to increase their profit.

    Fixed that for you, dummy.

  • by myth24601 ( 893486 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:03PM (#38387424)

    I think the main reason the Navy doesn't put ski jumps on the gator carriers that the USMC takes off from is because they don't want to sacrifice the space that could be used for helicopter operations. Those carriers are mainly used for landing troops with the Harrier playing a supporting role.

  • by roothog ( 635998 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:05PM (#38387458)

    Magnetic launch puts less stress on aircraft, requires a smaller physical space on the ship, and requires less manpower to operate and maintain.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:05PM (#38387462)

    The US can barely handle a bunch of tribespeople with AK47s living in caves.

  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:07PM (#38387486) Journal

    I don't understand why they did this at all. A steam catapult is relatively simple mechanically, and any pipefitting company can work on it as long as they have the appropriate government qualifications. Our carriers are going to have nuclear reactors for a long time, and that means a readilly-available source of steam. Going to magnetic launchers just hints to me that the principal contractor wanted to drive up the costs in order to increase their profit, and the ability for them to charge out the ass for aftermarket service and parts.

    From what I understand, the magnetic catapults are much more reliable and preform much better than using extremely high pressured steam. Components tend to break when place them under high pressure, release the pressure in an instant and the slowly pressurize it again.

  • by GreatBunzinni ( 642500 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:18PM (#38387724)

    And as additional food for thought, consider this: nowadays there are cruise missiles specifically designed to take down supercarriers being sold for around 2 million euros a pop, such as Russia/India's BrahMos []. This means that for the price of a single US fighter, any enemy can purchase two dozens or so missiles capable of sinking a multi-billion dollar supercarrier such as those from the Gerald Ford-class. These are missiles which can pretty much be launched from anything, from submarines to planes and possibly a donkey cart as well. So, why is it a good idea to waste money on these massive bullseyes?

  • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:49PM (#38388292) Homepage

    So, why is it a good idea to waste money on these massive bullseyes?

    Why? Not all conflicts are against enemies who have the wherewithal to attack you from 1000 miles away. If you're going up against a small country in another part of the world, you can park it far enough away that they can't bring it down with their resources and you can still fly your aircraft over them with impunity.

    Why else? Because they let high-ranking military personnel feel important when they're allowed to drive one.

    Want more reasons? Transfer payments to corporations and other associated entities. Jobs.

    I could go on but, chances are, I've proved my point. There are many reasons (both good and not) for building these dinosaurs.

  • by readin ( 838620 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:59PM (#38388476)
    WWII was started by two countries that, though historically capable of supporting strong militaries, had not taken advantage of the colonial age due to circumstances - Germany due to disunity and Japan due to a period of shutting itself off from the outside world. Both countries were looking to take their rightful place on the world stage. Both believed themselves racially superior but victims of historical wrongs committed against them. Germany at least, did not claim its initial moves were aggressive but were merely recovering what should have been theirs all along, in particular areas where German culture existed.

    Does any of this not apply to China?
  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:31PM (#38389034) Journal

    President's names don't make very good aircraft carrier names in my opinion

    They also seem somewhat antithetical to our republican traditions. One can understand when a monarchical state starts to idolize its leaders but why should a democratic republic do the same?

    By the way, I heard there's a petition to rename the second Gerald Ford-class carrier "Enterprise", since the old one (CVN-65) is supposed to be decommissioned by whenever the new one is finished

    A lot of people will be ticked off if the Enterprise goes to the breakers without a new carrier being named after her. CV-6 was the most decorated US warship of all time. She fought in nearly every major Pacific engagement and stood ALONE against the Japanese towards the end of the Guadalcanal campaign when every other US carrier was sunk or laid up for repairs. Her accomplishments were such that she was the only non-British ship ever awarded the British Admiralty Pennant.

    Anybody with any sense of history really needs to be writing letters to their Congressman and the Secretary of the Navy on this subject. Seriously, they'd better not replace the Enterprise with a ship named after another politician that hasn't even been dead long enough for history to render a judgment. Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush weren't even dead when their namesake ships were commissioned. How pathetic that we idolize politicians in such a manner.

  • by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:36PM (#38390272) Homepage Journal

    China's aircraft carrier sounds like pretty old tech. Our aircraft carriers are the most advanced in the world, with nuclear power and now electromagnetic launchers. At something like $5 billion apiece, they aren't cheap. Maybe we can get back some of those dollars we've sent to China by selling them a fleet of our new Reagan-class aircraft carriers.

    $5 billion? The Ford Class is expected to hit $15 billion apiece. Which is why the Navy is planning to stretch carrier construction from 5 year cycles to 8 or even 9 year cycles. They simply can't afford as many at those costs. The DDG-1000 may be $7 billion dollars apiece for a destroyer. The F-35 is now as expensive as the F-22, with much less capability. We're pricing ourselves out of a Navy with any significant numbers of ships.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @08:09PM (#38391454) Journal

    In practice, carriers are not used by U.S. today to attack enemy carriers; they are used to house aircraft that hit ground targets, just off the coast so that they have short turnaround.

    And you can probably replace fighter planes with drones for the kinds of missions that they perform in Afghanistan, or even the kinds that they would be hypothetically performing in Iran; but, for the latter, you really need larger and heavier drones. So you'd still need large carriers to launch them.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor