Archive for the ‘aircraft carriers’ Category

China Aircraft Carriers Ordered, Construction Starts This Year

January 19, 2009

In Shanghai, China, shipyard employees report that the Chinese Navy has ordered two 60,000 ton aircraft carriers, and preparations are under way to begin construction this year, with completion scheduled for 2015. Fifty Russian Su-33 jet fighters would be imported to serve on the new carriers. Chinese naval aviators would use the former Russian carrier Varyag as a training ship, to learn how to operate the Su-33s off carriers. Recently, Chinese officials visited Ukraine and inspected the naval aviation training facilities that were built there before the Soviet Union dissolved (and Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union). Ukraine wants to use those facilities to establish an international center for training carrier aviators.

From Strategy Page

An Su-33 on board Admiral Kuznetsov.

Chinese admirals have said they need carriers to assure Chinese access to raw materials, especially oil, that comes by sea. China hopes to get key components for the carrier from Russian manufacturers. If that is possible, completion of the carriers might be speeded up by a year or two.

Three months ago, China announced that its first class of carrier aviators had begun training at the Dalian Naval Academy. The naval officers will undergo a four year course of instruction to turn them into fighter pilots capable of operating off a carrier. China already has an airfield, in the shape of a carrier deck, built at an inland facility. The Russians have warned China that it may take them a decade or more to develop the knowledge and skills needed to efficiently run an aircraft carrier. The Chinese are game, and are slogging forward.

A year ago, the Russian aircraft carrier Varyag was renamed the Shi Lang (after the Chinese general who took possession of Taiwan in 1681, the first time China ever paid any attention to the island) and given the pennant number 83. The Chinese have been refurbishing the Varyag, one of the Kuznetsov class that Russia began building in the 1980s, for several years now. It is expected to be ready for sea trials any day now.

Originally the Kuznetsovs were conceived of as 90,000 ton, nuclear powered ships, similar to American carriers (complete with steam catapults). Instead, because of the cost, and the complexity of modern (American style) carriers, the Russians were forced to scale back their goals, and ended up with the 65,000 ton (full load ) ships that lacked steam catapults, and used a ski jump type flight deck instead. Nuclear power was dropped, but the Kuznetsov class was still a formidable design. The thousand foot long carrier normally carries a dozen navalized Su-27s (called Su-33s), 14 Ka-27PL anti-submarine helicopters, two electronic warfare helicopters and two search and rescue helicopters. But the ship can carry up to 36 Su-33s and sixteen helicopters. The ship carries 2,500 tons of aviation fuel, allowing it to generate 500-1,000 aircraft and helicopter sorties. Crew size is 2,500 (or 3,000 with a full aircraft load.) Only two ships of this class exist; the original Kuznetsov, which is in Russian service, and the Varyag.

The Chinese have been in touch with Russian naval construction firms, and may have purchased plans and technology for equipment installed in the Kuznetsov. Some Chinese leaders have quipped about having a carrier by 2010 (this would have to be a refurbished Varyag). Even that would be an ambitious schedule, and the Chinese have been burned before when they tried to build new military technology in a hurry.

Su-27 low pass.jpg

China to build 2 carriers by 2015

January 3, 2009

China will begin construction of the country’s first domestically produced aircraft carriers in Shanghai next year, with an eye to completing two mid-sized carriers by 2015, military and shipbuilding sources said.

Beijing is also expected to complete work on a never-finished former Soviet aircraft carrier moored in the northeastern port of Dalian, to provide training for carrier-based pilots and crew.

The two 50,000- to 60,000-ton carriers will rely on conventional propulsion systems, not nuclear power. They will be assigned to the People’s Liberation Army Navy south sea fleet, tasked with patrolling the South China Sea, sources said.

China’s carrier ambitions and the build-up of its blue-water fleet have long been of interest to Pacific nations.

National defense ministry spokesman Huang Xueping recently commented that China might build its own aircraft carriers.

However, this is the first time the goals of Chinese naval planners have been clarified in such detail.

If China does bolster its naval combat capabilities by deploying aircraft carriers, it could significantly impact the delicate military balance in East Asia.

Read the entire article: 

This article appeared in Asahi Shimbun in Japan and in Navy Times in the U.S.

Navy Times:

A portion of the Navy Times article:
China plans to begin building two aircraft carriers next year, a Japanese newspaper reported Wednesday, in what would be its first attempt at fixed-wing naval aviation and a potentially major new variable in the strategic calculus of the Pacific.

The two flattops each would be between 50,000 and 60,000 tons, be conventionally powered and patrol the South China Sea, according to the report in Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper, which cited Chinese “shipbuilding sources.” The carriers could be in the fleet by 2015, the story said.

China is one of the world’s largest builders of commercial ships, although its biggest indigenous warship so far has been no more than about 17,000 tons. The Asahi Shimbun reported that the carriers would be built at a new shipyard outside Shanghai and include components already on order from Russia.

A Chinese naval officer told the newspaper that one of the carriers’ primary missions would be to guard the sea lanes that connect energy-ravenous China with oil and mineral resources in the Middle East and Africa.

The story is the latest in a series of reports from around the world about Chinese ambitions to field an aircraft carrier. The official People’s Liberation Army Daily newspaper reported in September that 50 pilots from the Dalian Naval Academy were training for “ship borne aircraft flight.” Official Russian press agencies reported in October that China had purchased as many as 50 Su-33 Flanker-D fighter jets, an updated version of the Su-27K carried aboard Russia’s sole aircraft carrier. Since then, British and American news agencies have quoted top Chinese officials as expressing great interest in seaborne airpower.

“The Chinese government would seriously consider ‘relevant issues’ with “factors in every aspects” on building its first ever aircraft carrier, said navy spokesman Huang Xueping,” according to a Dec. 23 report by the official Xinhua news agency.