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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 InsightIn140Bytes ( 2522112 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:21PM (#38386752)
    I would feel much safer to take off from a carrier that has ski-jump at end of the ramp. Without it you're basically taking off from under the deck, almost hitting water if you don't have enough speed. Ski-jump gives you much more vertical speed on take off.
  • by kcbnac ( 854015 ) <> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:30PM (#38386900)

    This was sold as a research vessel only, not to be converted back for active military use. Who knows if China is going to follow that, but being an old design and stripped of many useful things, they'd be better off building a fresh one with new design, tech and materials, and keep using this as a "research" ship.

    Also sell the one superpower that could actually give us a run for our money the equipment we use? That would be VERY stupid, also they wouldn't take it - they'd want to make sure none of it was sabotaged. (As we've done several times with commercial gear when the Soviets would buy it through 3rd parties)

  • by Haedrian ( 1676506 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:33PM (#38386950)

    "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 "

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

  • by roothog ( 635998 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:35PM (#38386976)

    almost hitting water if you don't have enough speed. Ski-jump gives you much more vertical speed on take off.

    With flat launch, you do hit the water in high seas [] if they don't time the catapult launch correctly.

  • Re:Ukraine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by idji ( 984038 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:43PM (#38387110)
    Go and google "The Ukraine" and look up Oxford English Dictionary and you will find such interesting linguistic jewels. "The Ukraine", "The Crimea", "The Sudan", "The Netherlands", "The Congo", "The Ivory Coast". Now get off my lawn....
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @03:54PM (#38387278) Homepage Journal

    So they've finally figured out they have to Build them in the OCEAN?!?!?!? []

  • by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:01PM (#38387396) Homepage
    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.
  • by dtmos ( 447842 ) * on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:05PM (#38387450)

    What even a modest carrier can do in the near term caught the Chinese by surprise in early 2005,when they watched in horror as Indian and Japanese carriers conducted post-tsunami relief operations. Thus, in reconceptualizing the PLAN carrier, China’s two potential role models—and competitors—are not the United States and the former Soviet Union but rather India and Japan. [Andrew S. Erickson and Andrew R.Wilson, "China's aircraft carrier dilemma []," Naval War College Review, Autumn 2006, Vol. 59, No. 4, p. 36.]

    Would that this were true -- it would be nice to see countries build military weapons platforms to compete with each other to provide the best humanitarian assistance possible. [/pollyanna] However. . . .

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

    by ISoldat53 ( 977164 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:54PM (#38388400)
    In war games that is exactly how they did it. Saturate a defense sector with missiles and decoys until the defenses burn out or run out of ammo.
  • by baKanale ( 830108 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @04:56PM (#38388434)
    Apparently they are building their own []. As a prelude to this they've been buying up both ships and ship plans from Western navies. I think their plan is to use these to learn how to build and operate carriers before they start making them at home.

    On a side note, they turned the decommissioned 1970's era Soviet carrier Minsk into a military theme park called "Minsk World []"! They did the same thing with the Kiev, but it's name isn't nearly as amusing...
  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:18PM (#38388822)
    The day of the carrier is over, anyway. They're great for beating up third world nations, but "power projection" just isn't going to work against a real airforce and air defense system. The US has yet to fight a fight without air supremacy. How useful is your carrier when only 25% of your sortie makes it back?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @05:42PM (#38389232)
    I understand wanting him out of office, but you seriously can't wait for the guy to die, WTF?
  • by ckaminski ( 82854 ) <slashdot-nospam@ ... m minus physicis> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:24PM (#38390036) Homepage
    Excellent, when you can get another wing from the motherland in 24 hours via a network of in-flight-refueling aircraft.
  • by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:31PM (#38390176)
    I think it's really worth asking whether ships like the Nimitz-class super carriers are even going to be that relevant in 10 or 20 years. Right now, more and more missions, both reconnaissance and combat, are being flown by drones. We're also seeing the first generation of combat drones getting ready to enter service. The Northrop X-47B made its first flight this year, and they are planning carrier trials in 2013. The question then becomes, couldn't you get away with building a fleet of smaller carriers that would fly drones rather than manned aircraft? Remember that the main reason carriers won out over battleships in the first place was that airpower gave you the ability to sink a battleship long before the carrier was in range of the battleship's guns. Currently, the X-47B has a maximum range of 2100 nautical miles versus 1600 nautical miles for an F-14. Assuming your maximum strike range is half of that, a small carrier equipped with an X-47 or something comparable could attack a Nimitz class carrier armed with F-14s 250 miles outside of the range of the Nimitz-class carrier. If drones do require less infrastructure than aircraft (you don't need to house and feed pilots and copilots, you don't need rescue helicopters in case the pilots go down) then you ought to be able to get away with something that would give you the force-projection beyond that of an existing aircraft carrier, but in a smaller, cheaper package.
  • Re:Aircraft carriers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:32PM (#38390190) Homepage Journal

    Not really.
    1. It is not easy to get within range of a us carrier group with Aircraft. They have E-2s which give you great radar coverage plus F-18s armed with AIM-120s.
    2. If you manage to get past the CAP then you have to deal with the escorts. Both the DDs and CGs classes in use today have great air defense systems. Not to mention a lot of SAMs.
    3. You then have to get past the point defenses of the ships to hit a carrier. It could be done but you better bring about 100+ aircraft to the party.
    As far as using a surface ship? The Carrier can reach out and hit you from a long way.
    4. Subs? well they are actually slow. A fast sub is a loud sub and likely to be a dead sub.

    As long as the carrier is out to see it will be tough nut to crack. Now if you can get it close to shore and used shore mounted weapons you may have a chance.

    The only reason that the Brits lost any ships was they lacked any AEW assets like the E-2 and only had Sea Harriers.

  • by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:38PM (#38390312) Homepage Journal

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

    The point of this carrier isn't to challenge the US carrier fleet. The point of this carrier is to learn how to build and operate carriers. Once they do that, China will start building much larger and more capable carriers and in greater numbers, while the US Navy is trimming it's fleet. If I was Taiwanese, I'd be nervous.

Put no trust in cryptic comments.