China's Aircraft Carriers Are a Paper Tiger (For Now)

Comment by Jim Campbell

December 30th, 2019

If our intelligence on China’s Aircraft carrier is accurate then they are clearly not ready for prime time.

It’s nothing more than a paper tiger and the Chinese know it.

No one including the Chinese has any clue what the Renminbi is worth.

In order to ramp up their military, they will need to put the squeeze on Chinese Citizens in the form of more taxation or cutting back on their food supplies.

The goal of the current administration in China is worldwide domination.

Although China is a totalitarian dictatorship disguised by having elections and a President, all people desire freedom and many will risk their lives to obtain it.

National Interest

By David Axe

December 30th, 2019

It all comes down to a few simple facts.

The Chinese navy on Dec. 17, 2019, commissioned into service its second aircraft carrier, Shandong.

As of December 15th, 2019, there are 44 active aircraft carriers in the world operated by thirteen navies. The United States Navy has 11 large nuclear-powered fleet carriers—carrying around 80 fighter jets each—the largest carriers in the world; the total combined deck space is over twice that of all other nations combined.

China’s leader Xi Jinping presided over the commissioning ceremony at a naval base in Sanya, on the southern island of Hainan, the ship’s home port.

With Shandong in service, the Chinese fleet now ties the Royal Navy as the second-biggest operator of carriers that are capable of operating fixed-wing aircraft.

The U.S. Navy, the number-one carrier power, possesses 20 ships capable of launching and recovering airplanes.

Shandong is a somewhat improved copy of China’s first flattop Liaoning, herself a refurbished ex-Ukrainian vessel dating from the late 1980s.

Shandong boasts roomier hangars and as such reportedly can embark up to 36 fixed-wing fighters, as opposed to the 24 that fit aboard Liaoning.

But the slightly bigger air wing still suffers crippling limitations that could prevent Shandong from ever playing a meaningful role in a major conflict.

It all comes down to a few simple facts.

China operates just one carrier-capable fighter, the J-15. A copy of the Soviet Su-33, the J-15 is heavy.

In fact, at 19 tons empty, it’s the heaviest fixed-wing carrier plane currently in service anywhere in the world.

The U.S. Navy’s own F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter weighs just 16 tons empty.

The J-15’s weight might not be a major issue if Chinese carriers featured catapults like American carriers do.

But they don’t.

Instead, both Liaoning and Shandong launch their planes via a bow-mounted ramp.

The ramp launch method imparts much less energy than catapult-launch can do, meaning the Chinese carrier’s planes must keep down their loaded weight.

The Washington, D.C. Center for Strategic and International Studies estimated the J-15’s maximum takeoff weight during carrier operations to be around 31 tons. America’s 10 nuclear-powered supercarriers with their catapults can launch planes weighing up to 50 tons.

At 31 tons, the J-15 can carry only minimal fuel and weapons.

Indeed, no public photos or videos of Chinese carriers’ operations have depicted J-15s launching while carrying more than a few small air-to-air missiles.

Realistically, J-15s wouldn’t be able to haul a meaningful weapons load into combat.

Aerial refueling somewhat could mitigate that weight limitation.

But “the practice remains difficult to execute, and the [Chinese navy’s] refueling capabilities are not yet fully developed,” CSIS explained.

Chinese officials are well aware of the J-15’s problems.

“Its weight is one of the key reasons military leaders have pushed for the use of an electromagnetic aircraft launch system – rather than steam-powered catapults – on China’s third carrier, which is currently under construction,” South China Morning Post noted.

But even launching via catapult, the J-15 could prove to be a dog, especially if the catapult is steam-powered.

“If China insisted on using steam-powered catapults to launch the J-15, it would look like forcing a toddler to run with [Chinese hurdler] Liu Xiang and [Jamaican sprinter] Usain Bolt,” an unnamed expert told South China Morning Post. “That would be so embarrassing!”

China like the United States is working on more efficient electromagnetic catapults.

The Chinese navy reportedly plans to install the electromagnetic launchers on the country’s third carrier, which could commission in the mid-2020s.

Beijing reportedly aims to acquire just four carriers including Liaoning and Shandong.

In a 2017 interview with China Central Television, Chinese navy rear admiral Yin Zhuo, a senior researcher at the fleet’s research center, said China had completed “hundreds of [land-based] tests” with the new catapult and J-15s.

But the electromagnetic catapult is a new technology and has proved difficult even for the Americans to build.

It’s unclear whether China’s version of the catapult will be ready in time for the third carrier’s launch.

Under the best of circumstances, China’s future carrier fleet with its four flattops will include at most two vessels that are capable of launching J-15s with full loads of weapons and fuel.

The other two carriers will continue launching fighters that are too heavy for their ramps and thus incapable of hauling the weapons and fuel they’d need in order to actually contribute to an aerial battle.

David Axe serves as Defense Editor of the National Interest.

He is the author of the graphic novels  War FixWar Is Boring and Machete Squad.


About JCscuba

I am firmly devoted to bringing you the truth and the stories that the mainstream media ignores. This site covers politics with a fiscally conservative, deplores Sharia driven Islam, and uses lots of humor to spiceup your day. Together we can restore our constitutional republic to what the founding fathers envisioned and fight back against the progressive movement. Obama nearly destroyed our country economically, militarily coupled with his racism he set us further on the march to becoming a Socialist State. Now it's up to President Trump to restore America to prominence. Republicans who refuse to go along with most of his agenda RINOs must be forced to walk the plank, they are RINOs and little else. Please subscribe at the top right and pass this along to your friends, Thank's I'm J.C. and I run the circus
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1 Response to China's Aircraft Carriers Are a Paper Tiger (For Now)

  1. JAFC says:

    Chine claims the South China Sea as its own. Further developments to be expected.


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