Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chinese flattop update

Following up on Fixer's post, Reuters/Yahoo!News has an update. Nice photo of the ship.

The long-awaited debut of the vessel, a refitted former Soviet craft, marked a step forward in China's long-term plan to build a carrier force that can project power into the Asian region, where seas are spanned by busy shipping lanes and thorny territorial disputes.

I think the 'refitting' consisted mostly of pumping enough water out of her so she would float, patching rust holes, and changing all the signs and instruction manuals from Russian to Chinese.

The aircraft carrier, which is about 300 meters (984 feet) long, plowed through fog and sounded its horn three times as it left the dock, Xinhua said on its military news microblog.

Sounds like a real powerhouse. The horn works.

No word yet on the rumored deal that the Brits are selling China some surplus naval aircraft so the deck won't look so empty.

So far, the Chinese carrier is simply referred to as 'the Chinese carrier' by most, though rumor has it that the skippers of the world's fast attack submarines are calling her 'torpedo practice'. My suggestion for a name is Sin King Dragon.


BadTux said...

If you look at the actual design of this class of carriers, you'll see that they're not exactly carriers in the same sense as, say, the U.S.S. Gerald Ford. They're very small and fundamentally designed for anti-submarine and escort operations. They typically would carry twenty anti-submarine helicopters and twenty jets of various sorts in actual deployed usage.

In its current state the Chinese can basically use this as a helicopter carrier for things like humanitarian response and shipping protection. They have plenty of helicopters. Actually flying fixed-wing aircraft onto and off of this hulk is likely some time in the future, I doubt any of the arrest systems work (it never did have a catapult, instead relying on a ski jump) and besides, it only carries 20 fixed-wing aircraft, good enough for dealing with pirates and escorting a convoy that needs defending against submarines but not useful against any real enemies. As the Misfit reports, really the only thing it's useful for is teaching the Chinese how to do carrier operations, i.e., for training. Now, if they scaled this thing up to full size, added catapults, boarded 80 fixed-wing aircraft, and built a couple dozen of them... urp! Yeah, *that* would be a problem.

BTW, China does have destroyers and missile cruisers and submarines that can serve as carrier escorts, including very good hunter-killer subs of their own, one of which popped up in the middle of a US carrier group a coupla years back and basically scared the bajeezus outta a buncha sailors who realized they'd be tuna bait at the bottom of the sea if it had been the start of a real shooting war. They also have plenty of tankers and freighters that can serve as fleet tankers and fleet freighters for sustaining beyond the littoral of China. So they have everything they need to have carrier groups, well, except the carriers. It makes sense they'll have the carriers someday. But today ain't it :).

- Badtux the War Penguin

Fixer said...

Those bent up decks (the Limeys had 'em too) always made me think the aircraft never had enough power to get off a flat deck (or the navigators needed to be pointed in the right direction). Heh ...

BadTux said...

Nah, the ski jump is there 'cause the boat is too small for planes to take off on its teeny tiny little postage stamp deck otherwise, even if it did have functioning catapults. Compared to a real aircraft carrier this thing's pathetic. Which is why it's amusing to see folks soiling their breeches over the mighty, mighty China aircraft carrier threat...

- Badtux the Easily Amused Penguin

Gordon said...

Badtux, it's like learning how to ride a motorcycle. You start with a 125 to make your mistakes on something slow and cheap. Next thing you know, yer on a Gold Wing with the front wheel securely lodged in the passenger door of a Buick Pahk Avenoo that turned left in front of you.

I always thought it looked pretty cool to see the planes take off from those bent decks. You can have a shorter ship and flight deck that way. As Amurrikans, we go big. Our carriers would have a 10,000 foot runway if the designers could get the ship to turn 180 degrees between Libya and Italy. Or Japan and California.