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Author: Subject: Chinese Navy 2017 onwards
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[*] posted on 8-1-2020 at 09:24 AM


Since this article she has been posted to command of a DDG.

Commander Wei Xiaohui to be Chinese Navy's first female warship captain
SourceChina Military OnlineEditorXu YiTime2019-03-08
A+-
By Fang Sihang and Liu Yaxun



Commander Wei Xiaohui, intern captain of the guided-missile destroyer Zhengzhou (Hull 151) of the Chinese Navy


BEIJING, Mar. 8 (ChinaMil) -- In a recent combat drill on the East China Sea, a female officer with military rank of commander adeptly gave battle orders at the operations commanding room aboard the guided-missile destroyer Changchun (Hull 150) of the Chinese Navy.

Who is the female officer? She is Dr. Wei Xiaohui, the first female intern captain of the guided-missile destroyer Zhengzhou (Hull 151) of the Chinese Navy.

The story of Wei’s military career is full of legends: From a well-paid white-collar worker to a naval officer, from an outstanding doctoral student to a commanding officer of a new-type destroyer…

After graduating with a doctoral degree, Wei aspired to join the military and she sent a cover letter to the Chinese Navy, in which she expressed her longing for serving in the military and elaborated her conditions and advantages that would enable her to become a qualified soldier. She also attached awards and certificates she had won and papers she had published, which added up to more than 200 pages in total.

In January 2012, her dream came true as she was enlisted in the Chinese Navy. In the following seven years, she evolved from a new recruit to a deputy department head of China’s first aircraft carrier and then to executive officer and intern captain of destroyers. In the process she achieved an unprecedented growth, faster than standard routines.

In April 2015, Wei was appointed intern executive officer of the guided-missile destroyer Changchun (Hull 150). The first year at the position was full of challenges for her. To learn more about equipment data, she carried a notebook in her pocket so that she could take notes anytime. She took notes on almost everything, ranging from every simple countersign to her own understanding of every operational maneuver, from the name of every piece of equipment to its specific usage methods.

Thanks to her tireless efforts, Wei passed the strict examination and officially became the Chinese Navy’s first female executive officer in March 2016. Then she was appointed the intern captain of the guided-missile destroyer Zhengzhou (Hull 151) in September 2017.

Today, the legendary female officer is just a heartbeat away from the first female warship captain of the Chinese Navy.




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[*] posted on 8-1-2020 at 12:30 PM


To be fair, she is probably a lot smarter than the typical naval officer, many of which often leave a lot to be desired in the mental capacity stakes...



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[*] posted on 9-1-2020 at 06:50 PM


Smart or not, 7-8 years to become Commander of one of the latest Destroyers is a ludicrous time frame...……...
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[*] posted on 9-1-2020 at 07:12 PM


Pakistan and China launch joint naval drills. Should India be concerned?

By: Usman Ansari   15 hours ago


Sea Guardians 2020 is the sixth in the bilateral series, which, according to the Pakistan Navy, will focus on “augmenting interoperability and strategic cooperation.” (Government of Pakistan)

ISLAMABAD — A nine-day Sino-Pakistani naval exercise commenced in Pakistan’s port of Karachi on Monday with the arrival of a Chinese naval task group from its South Sea Fleet. Sea Guardians 2020 is the sixth in the bilateral series, which, according to the Pakistan Navy, will focus on “augmenting interoperability and strategic cooperation.”

The exercise will include a range of drills to share “professional experiences on contemporary and non-traditional threats at sea” to improve regional security cooperation, plus promote a “safe and sustainable maritime environment.”

While stating the exercise aims to “enhance the capabilities of the two navies to jointly cope with maritime terrorism and crime,” China’s military media branch stressed it had “nothing to do with the regional situation and is not target[ing] at any third party.”

This was likely an attempt to reassure India that the drills were unrelated to the tension between rivals India and Pakistan.
However, India will certainly have noted that Sea Guardians included warlike air defense systems, anti-missile technology, anti-submarine warfare capabilities, and live-fire and joint marine training drills.

Sidharth Kaushal, a research fellow specializing in sea power at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said “India has generally regarded Chinese exercises and naval activity in the Indian Ocean with apprehension.” Consequently, New Delhi has invested in countering China’s naval presence.

“The Indian Navy’s efforts over the past decade to improve its situational awareness in the region and to upgrade the capabilities of tri-service command in Andaman and Nicobar reflects a growing consensus that the [Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy] will be a challenger in the [Indian Ocean region] in the foreseeable future,” Kaushal said.

Chinese advantage

The commander of the Pakistan Navy fleet, Vice Adm. Asif Khaliq, described the Sea Guardians series as “the basis for the two navies to test and improve their technical and tactical capabilities.” China’s ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, also compared the exercise to the bilateral land-based Warrior exercise, and the considerably larger air-based Shaheen (Falcon) exercise.

Author, analyst and former Australian defense attache to Islamabad Brian Cloughley told Defense News that China’s participation in such drills is meant to strengthen the country’s regional aims.

“Beijing thinks long term, and having Pakistan as an ally in the Indian Ocean is a big plus in its plans to secure trade routes and increase its regional influence. The [Pakistan Navy] is an important part of its overall strategy, and it can be expected that there will be further exercises, probably developing in size and scope,” Cloughley said.

Mansoor Ahmed, a senior fellow at the Center for International Strategic Studies in Islamabad, pointed to anti-submarine warfare, or ASW, capabilities as a focus amid Indo-Pakistani tension, given the potential for escalation involving sea-based strategic forces.

“India is hugely expanding its ASW capabilities, especially with platforms such as the P-8I and MH-60R [aircraft], which in addition to numerous bilateral and multilateral ASW exercises aimed at countering Chinese submarines specifically, will be readily applicable to countering Pakistan’s future submarine forces,” Ahmed said.

He also highlighted India’s massive numerical advantage allowing it to concentrate both surface and sub-surface force, and any future conflict will be one of attrition that may occur early in a conflict. If including loss of a Pakistani deterrent submarine, it will lower Islamabad’s nuclear threshold.

What ships were in attendance?

Chinese ships participating in Sea Guardians included the Type 052D destroyer Yinchuan, the Type 054A frigate Yuncheng, a sizable contingent of special forces, replenishment vessel Weishanhu, and Type 926 submarine support ship Liugong Island.

Pakistan contributed a pair of F-22P frigates and a pair of fast-attack craft, plus special forces.

Analysts consider China’s latest destroyers, such as the Type 055 and Type 052D, noteworthy comparable with their Western counterpart


Chinese Type 054A frigate Yuncheng, center, is shown docked in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Olga Maltseva /AFP via Getty Images)

Rather than build more Chinese-origin F-22Ps, Pakistan has ordered four modified Type 054A/P frigates that are currently under construction in China. The four ships will reportedly be equipped with CM-302 supersonic anti-ship missiles.

Though the actual lethality of supersonic anti-ship missiles is under debate, Kaushal believes if the Type 054A/P frigates are equipped with the CM-302, "this would improve Pakistan’s capacity to achieve sea denial in wartime.”

“While still operating at a naval disadvantage vis-a-vis India, as a primarily land-oriented power Pakistan needs to deny the sea in a conflict as opposed to using it per se” he said. “By contrast, India needs sea command if its Navy wishes to project power from the sea and contribute to a joint campaign.”

Consequently, he believes supersonic anti-ship missiles “would complicate the deployment of Indian naval forces near Pakistani shores and force them to operate from farther out, making it more difficult for the Indian Navy to replicate wartime successes such as the 1971 raid on Karachi.”

“Although I would not go so far as to say this changes the overall strategic balance between the two countries, it does enhance Pakistan’s ability to achieve sea denial near its own coastline,” he added.

Though officially there was no submarine taking part in Sea Guardians, the presence of China’s submarine support ship may be related to Pakistan’s requirement for such a vessel. However, Pakistan Navy spokesman Rear Adm. Arshid Javed would not confirm this.

Turkish firm STM hopes to interest Pakistan in a submarine rescue mothership design, following the construction of a tanker for the Pakistan Navy in Karachi.
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[*] posted on 11-1-2020 at 03:23 PM


A look at China’s new Type 002 ‘Shandong’ aircraft carrier

By Guest Contributor - January 10, 202013

The commissioning into service of China’s first domestically constructed aircraft carrier on the 17th of December 2019 marked a momentous paradigm shift, not only in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN’s) strategic philosophy, but it also introduced a new and important participant into the areas of carrier construction and operation.

This article was submitted to the UK Defence Journal by Kelvin Curnow. Kelvin’s particular area of interest is naval aircraft and aircraft carriers. He is a keen writer and over the past fifteen years he has had a number of articles published in different journals.

No longer was the West the primary proponent of aircraft carrier aviation, the launching of the SHANDONG (CV-17) meant the reality that this pre-eminence would not go unchallenged.

In 2017 the Royal Navy’s (RN’s) commissioning of HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH (R08) and the United States Navy’s (USN’s) launching of the USS GERALD R.FORD (CVN-78) marked important developments in the areas of aircraft carrier design and construction in the West. However, it was the 2017 launch of the SHANDONG on the 26th of April which marked a significant shift in the strategic balance, despite on paper it appearing to be significantly inferior to the British and American carriers.

With the intention of the UK government to send the QUEEN ELIZABETH through the South China Sea in 2021 it is relevant not only to consider the capabilities of the SHANDONG and its air wing, but how these compare those of the British carrier.

THE TYPE 002 SHANDONG DESCRIBED

The SHANDONG’s design is derived from the Kuznetsov class carrier LIAONING (Type 001) which was purchased as a hulk from Ukraine in 1995, refurbished and commissioned into service with the PLAN on 25 September, 2012. The LIAONING (CV 16) was laid down on 6 December 1985 at Shipyard 444 in Mykolaiv Ukraine, the only shipyard in the former Soviet Union which had built aircraft carriers including the four Kiev and the two Kuznetsov class.

Incredibly the story of the LIAONING began with an ex-PLA basketball star, Xu Zengping, who sealed the sale for what would become China’s first carrier. On March 19, 1998, Xu Zengping, in an open auction, outbid rivals from the US, Australia, South Korea and Japan. Secured for a knock down price of USD$20M the deal crucially included the sale of 40 tonnes of blueprints.


Chinese Carrier Liaoning.

This would have significant ramifications. It gave China access to the blueprints used for completion of the LIAONING (ex VARYAG), and crucially plans to permit design and construction of the SHANDONG, obviating the need to undertake the drawn out process of reverse engineering key components. Aided by access to these technical drawings China’s development and deployment of aircraft carriers has been spectacular. In November 2016, less than four years after it was commissioned, LIAONING and her air wing were considered fully operational and ready for combat.

Just eighteen months later, on the 13 May 2018 the SHANDONG left a port outside the Dalian Shipyard for its first sea trial, signalling that China had completed its first domestically produced aircraft carrier in stunning rapidity.

While superficially similar to the LIAONING, the SHANDONG is very different in concept. Both the ADMIRAL KUZNETSOV and LIAONING suffer from the misconception that the Kuznetsov class was built to operate as an aircraft carrier, as understood by Western navies. Russia describes the KUZNETSOV as a Tyazholiy Avianesushchiy Kreyser (TAKR or TAVKR) – ‘heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser’, and that is exactly what she is, relying on her missile armament for her main means of attack and defence, together with a small complement of fighters to provide a further layer of self-defence.

Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, said:
We are keeping a close eye on the Admiral Kuznetsov as it skulks back to Russia; a ship of shame whose mission has only extended the suffering of the Syrian people.
We are man-marking these vessels every step of the way around the UK as part of our steadfast commitment to keep Britain safe.

The Chinese comprehend it differently and follow the doctrine and operating procedures of Western navies which consider the aircraft carried as the primary means of both attack and defence. Hence, in the LIAONING the silos for the twelve P-700 Granit (SS-N-19 Shipwreck) anti-ship surface-to-surface missiles located below the forward flight deck in the KUZNETSOV have been removed. This has freed up storage space for fuel or ammunition. In the SHANDONG in addition to storage for more fuel and ammunition, this area is used for additional hangar space.

Superficially similar to the LIONING the SHANDONG features both significant and minor design changes. The ship weighs about 70,000 tons full load, is 1,033 ft (315 m) long and has a beam of 246 ft (76 m) at the flight deck, which makes her approximately 4,000tons heavier and 34.5 ft (10.5 m) longer than her predecessor. There are many examples of where the Chinese have not merely copied the design of the former Soviet vessel but have refined it, each pointing to her being used as an aircraft carrier in the strict sense of the term. For example, the SHANDONGs ski jump has an angle of 12.0° instead of the 14.0° on the LIAONING.

This is an angle ideal for launching the Shenyang J-15 fighter. Together with the enlarged hangar, the island which has been made smaller by 10%, and extended on sponsons in the aft-starboard quarter, space has been freed up allowing for up to eight more aircraft and helicopters to be carried. The island includes a second glazed deck which permits the bridge and flight control areas to be separate creating greater operational efficiency. It also features a faceted upper area of four Active Electronically Scanned Arrays (AESAs) for the Type 346A S-band radar.

THE AIR WING

The most significant component of the SHANDONG’s air wing is the Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark fighter. The J-15 is a reverse-engineered copy of the Russian Sukhoi SU-33 naval fighter designed to operate from the Short Take Off Barrier Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) carriers of the Kuznetsov class. The J-15 has suffered from major problems. Referring to two crashes in April 2016 an unnamed Chinese military source told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) that ‘the J-15 is a problematic aircraft – its unstable flight control system was the key factor behind the two fatal accidents two years ago’. As a result of the incidents the J-15 fleet was grounded for three months.


The J-15.

Even though Chinese authorities have only admitted two crashes it has been reported by the same newspaper that out of a total of twenty-four jets produced four have been lost. In addition to a series of unspecified mechanical problems with the aircraft, the shortcomings of STOBAR operations has not been lost on the Chinese military press, which in 2013 articles described the Flying Sharks as ‘flopping fish’.

Despite these issues China has refined the Russian design, equipping it with weapons, radar and systems of domestic origin which are superior to that of the Sukhoi. Nevertheless, operating from a STOBAR carrier imposes severe limitations on an aircraft the size of the J-15 which at an empty weight of 38,600 lb (17,500 kg) makes it over 6,000 lb (2,722 kg) heavier than a Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet. This makes it impossible for the fighter to launch with a full fuel and weapons load. From the two bow launching positions the J-15 has an estimated maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of between 50,000 lb (22,680 kg) and 56,000 lbs (25,402 kg) depending on wind over deck. From the waist launching position the MTOW is 62,832 lb (28,500 kg). The Sina Military Network (SMN) based in Beijing reported the J-15 could operate from the carrier equipped with two YJ-83K Eagle Strike anti-ship missiles (AShMs), two short-range PL-8 air-to-air missiles (AAMs), and four 500 kg (1,100 lb) bombs.

However, carrying a weapons load exceeding 12 tons the aircraft not be flown off a ski ramp equipped carrier.

External loads are limited to two tons when the J-15 is carrying a full internal fuel load. In this configuration the J-15 can only take off from the waist launch position. Operating from the LIAONING J-15s have been seen carrying a pair of PL-12 medium-range AAMs, along with a pair of PL-8 AAMs. Other J-15s were seen carrying two YJ-83K AShMs.

In comparison to those loads carried by Boeing F/A-18, Lockheed Martin F-35C or Dassault Rafale M catapult launched carrier fighters these are very light loads. The difficulty of launching with a light fuel load is partially ameliorated by post-launch refuelling from other J-15s carrying a Shanyang centreline buddy refuelling store.

Despite the limitations imposed by STOBAR operations, the J-15 flown by a competent pilot would be a match for its western counterparts in air-to-air combat. Developments of the J-15 include the two-seat J-15S and the J-15D, an electronic warfare aircraft analogous to the EA-18G Growler. Each variant will offer additional capabilities over the baseline aircraft but will come with the additional problem of greater weight, only exacerbating the difficulty of operating these aircraft at heavy loads.

Lacking catapults, both the LIAONING and SHANDONG rely on Changhe Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAIC) Z-18J and Kamov KA-31 helicopters to provide airborne early warning (AEW). A typical air wing of the carriers would normally consist of four Z-18J early warning helicopters, six Z-18F Sea Eagle anti-submarine helicopters and two Harbin Z-9C search and rescue (SAR) helicopters.

THE FUTURE

Signifying a important development, in mid-September 2016 the United States Naval Institute News published photographs online of a J-15 with a nose gear launch bar used for catapult launches. There are possibly four prototypes of this aircraft and these have reportedly been tested using both the steam catapult and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) at Huangdicun Airbase in Liaoning province, northern China. Both catapult tracks are approximately 460 ft (140 m) long. (This is not the first occasion on which the PLAN has undertaken tests with catapults.

In 1985 the catapult, arresting gear and landing sight were removed from the former Majestic class carrier HMAS MELBOURNE and installed at a base in Dalian on a replica flight deck where a modified Shenyang J-8 II was used for flight tests. MELBOURNE had been sold in February 1985 to the China United Shipbuilding Company ostensibly for scrapping.) These trials are in preparation for the service entry of the Type 003 Catapult Assisted Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) 85,000 ton aircraft carrier, probably in 2024. An image of the carrier was posted on Chinese social media service WeChat in 2018 by the No. 701 Research Institute of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC). It indicated that the carrier will be equipped with two bow and one waist catapult. PLAN sources have claimed the carrier will have EMALS rather than steam catapults. Given that the Type 003 will be conventionally powered and EMALS requires significant electrical power, usually provided via nuclear reactors, it is a significant achievement if indeed the Chinese have married the two technologies. However, development of the EMALS has been burdened by the same problems faced by the American programme. On 28 November 2019 the SCMP reported that tests of the EMALS involving the J-15 demonstrated that it had ‘failed to meet the required standard’.

An image appearing online in April 2019 showed J-15 fighters and a Xian Aircraft Corporation KJ-600 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft parked on the concrete carrier flight deck mock-up at the PLAN’s Shore Based Test Facility at Wuhan. The KJ-600, which has so far only appeared as a mock-up, is remarkably similar to the Northrop-Grumman E-2 Hawkeye, and the 1980s Soviet Yakovlev Yak-44 which also only appeared in model form.


The KJ-600.

It may be assumed that the KJ-600 relies on technology transferred from the Yakovlev design bureau. Although there is no hard evidence to support this assumption, there are ample examples of China acquiring Russian technological support to design and build its own aircraft, the CAIC Z-10 attack helicopter being a prime instance. Speculatively the KJ-600 weighs approximately 60,000 lbs which puts it in the same ballpark as the Hawkeye.

Unlike the E-2D which is equipped with the APY-9 radar featuring an active electronically scanned array, which adds electronic scanning to the mechanical rotation of the radar, the KJ-600 is depicted variously with either two or three phased arrays on a fixed radome. The KJ-600 will provide a quantum leap in capability over the AEW helicopters carried by both the LIAONING and SHANDONG if put into production.

Speculation has long surrounded the future of the J-15 which has been a useful introduction for the PLAN into operating fighters from carriers, but it is now a dated design. In April 2018 Chinese media announced that the J-15B had been placed into production, supplanting the earlier variant. Described as a 4++ generation fighter, it will feature an increased weapons payload of up to twelve air-to-air missiles (AAMs), and compatibility with both the new PL-15 active radar-guided very long range AAM and the YJ-12 Anti-Ship Cruise Missile (ASCM). The J-15B will also probably be equipped with three dimensional thrust vectoring engines, an AESA radar and updated avionics and electronic warfare systems. In December 2019 the Australian Defence Business Review (ABDR) reported that fifteen J-15B Flying Shark fighters and its J-15D electronic warfare derivative, Z-8, Z-9 and Ka-32 helicopters would equip the SHANDONG’s air wing. This is a reasonable estimate on the part of the ABDR, however, as noted above, the difficulties of operating the very heavy J-15D from a STOBAR carrier are significant, if not prohibitive. At this point there is no hard evidence to suggest that either the J-15B or J-15D have entered series production.

The Western technical press has for some time suggested that the Flying Shark may possibly be replaced by the Shenyang J-31 Gyrfalcon fifth-generation stealth fighter, an aircraft similar in size to the F-35, hence deemed suitable for carrier operations.

However, in what could only be described as an amazing announcement the SCMP, quoting an anonymous military source, declared that the Central Military Commission, the People’s Liberation Army’s top decision-making body, favoured adapting the J-20 over the J-31 for its new carriers. The Chengdu Aerospace Corporation J-20 Powerful Dragon weighs 81,600 lb (37,013 kg) MTOW which in its definitive form will be powered by two Shenyang WS-15 afterburning turbofans with 180 kN (40,000 lbf) in reheat. (The current WS-10B or AL-31FM2 turbofans powering the J-20 would not provide sufficient thrust for carrier operations.) The J-20 is approximately 66.8 ft (20.4 m) long with a wingspan of 42.4 ft (13.5 m), the SCMP noting that the length of the aircraft will need to be shortened to facilitate carrier operations.

Preliminary sketches appearing in Western media depict it with folded wings. By way of comparison the J-15 has a MTOW of 62,832 lb (28,500 kg), is 71 ft 10 in (21.9 m) in length and has wingspan of 48 ft 3 in (14.7 m). Weight alone would make operations from a STOBAR carrier marginal, if not prohibitive.

Rather than shortening the length of the aircraft, an odd statement by the SCMP given that the J-20 is not as long as the J-15, a weight reduction exercise would prove of more benefit. Moreover, the task of modifying the J-20 for carrier operations would be very difficult. Necessary modifications would need to be made to the undercarriage, the control laws for the fly by wire (FBW) system would need to be rewritten, the wing flaps would need revision, high lift devices may need to be added and the addition of thrust vectoring nozzles may also be required.

The J-20 has a maximum speed of Mach 2+ speed and an estimated range of 6,000 km (3,700 mi, 3,200 nmi) with full fuel load. These are significant numbers and signal that the PLAN is serious in maximising the potential of its future CATOBAR equipped aircraft carriers. On pure statistics the J-20 will far outstrip the kinetic performance parameters of the F-35C and F-35B, Hornet and Rafale. Given equivalence in pilot proficiency, with better stealth characteristics the J-20 should prove superior to F/A-18s and Rafale in overall performance. However, against F-35s which have a lower radar cross section (RCS) of 0.001 m2 as opposed to 0.25 m2 for the J-20, the balance would swing very much in the Lightning’s favour mainly because the detection range of the J-20’s Type 1475 (KLJ-5) AESA radar would be considerably inhibited. Detecting a J-20 using its AN/APG-81 AESA radar and AN/AAQ-37 Electro-optical Distributed Aperture System (DAS) before being identified by the Chinese fighter’s sensors, and armed with MBDA Meteor AAMs, the RN’s F-35Bs would have a significant advantage, with the high prospect of a ‘first-look, first-shot’ hence high kill probability (Pk).


The J-20

Should the long-range shot miss and the two fighters join in the merge the outcome would depend on manoeuvrability, sensors, weapons and pilot skill. Despite the F-35’s poor reputation as a dogfighter, a reported kill ratio 20:1 in a 2017 Red Flag exercise suggests that this is far from the truth and against any aircraft other than the F-22, and probably the Typhoon, it would have an advantage in air-to-air combat. These kill ratio figures come amidst the ongoing criticism of the F-35’s poor thrust-to-weight ratio and overall performance figures. However, these ‘kills’ were against fourth generation fights such as the F-16 and F-15 which are claimed by the F-35’s critics to be superior dogfighters.

Against a J-20 the F-35 will possess superior situational awareness providing a further advantage to its pilot. At 50% fuel the F-35 has a thrust-to-weight ratio of 1.07 which would be proximate to that of the J-20 powered by WS-15s, and superior to the J-20 if it was powered by its current lower thrust engines.

THE SHANDONG COMPARED TO THE QUEEN ELIZABETH CLASS

A comparison of the SHANDONG with the Queen Elizabeth class (QEC) carriers demonstrates that there are some similarities between the types, but more dissimilarities. Both feature ski ramps, however the SHANDONG is very much a compromise design configured for STOBAR operation of J-15 aircraft, itself derived from a land-based design which in itself is not the most optimal aircraft for carrier based operations. The QEC have a displacement of 65,000 tonnes, a length of 932 ft (284 m) and a beam of 128 ft (39 m) (waterline) and 240 ft (73 m) overall which makes them approximately the same size and weight of the SHANDONG. The QEC are able to carry an air wing of forty aircraft, the SHANDONG’s maximum complement being forty-four J-15s and helicopters.


F-35Bs on HMS Queen Elizabeth.

This is a nominal figure given the configuration of the SHANDONG’s flight deck and the dimensions of the J-15, the actual figure is in all probability much less. The British carriers in comparison can carry a maximum of seventy aircraft in overload facilitated by possessing more than 19,500 m2 of flight deck as opposed to approximately 15,000 m2 for the SHANDONG.

The SHANDONG and LIAONING will share between them only twenty J-15s unless manufacture of the aircraft is restarted.

Moreover, the full-width ski ramp of the Chinese carriers prevents any aircraft being parked forward as in American, French, Italian and British carriers. Forward of the island are the hold-backs and blast deflectors for two J-15s permitting launch in rapid succession, although moving more fighters forward and then flying them off the deck is considerably slowed by the inefficient launch process. As witnessed in the recent Westlant 19 deployment the single offset ski ramp on QUEEN ELIZABETH permitted aircraft to be parked forward. Moreover, the efficient operation of the Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B from the carrier demonstrated comprehensibly the superiority of a ship designed specifically for operating this version of the Lightning.

In addition the F-35B is not a compromise design, unlike the J-15 it was designed from the outset for STOVL operations from aircraft carriers and amphibious landing ships.

The F-35B has demonstrated it can be launched from the QEC in ‘beast mode’ with a weapon load comprising two MBDA ASRAAM missiles, four Raytheon AIM-120 AAMs and four Raytheon Paveway IV guided bombs. The fuel load is unknown, but there is a high possibility that the aircraft can be launched in this configuration carrying full internal fuel depending on such factors as length of the take-off run and wind over deck. It is certainly Lockheed Martin’s intention that the F-35B can operate off a ski ramp equipped carrier at MTOW and successful tests were undertaken using the ramp at NAS Patuxent River validating the concept finishing mid 2016. Employing Short Rolling Vertical Landing (SRVL) the aircraft would also have a high bring back load, but the conditions in which this technique can be used remains open to question.


Two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.

At this point in time the UK has committed to buy forty-eight F-35Bs while maintain it still intends to order a total of one hundred and thirty-eight aircraft. With the projected long F-35 production run Britain can build up its numbers of aircraft over time. In contrast the J-15 is now out of production and the J-20 could prove prohibitively expensive to produce in large numbers. Taking into account all the factors a head-to-head comparison shows that the QEC and its air wing of F-35Bs is superior to China’s STOBAR aircraft carriers, with judgement reserved with respect to the Type 003.

IMPLICATIONS FOR THE UNITED KINGDOM

The rapid and dramatic transition of the PLAN from a brown-water to a blue-water navy has considerable implications for the UK. China’s growth as a naval power should be seen in the context of her desire to impose hegemony inside the nine dash line, a nominal boundary within which the Chinese government wants to exercise sovereignty and control over all of the features contained within it, on the land, in the water, and on the seabed.

The South China Sea occupies most of the area within this line. Chinese claims within the boundary have led to armed confrontation, notably with Vietnam and the Philippines which together which with denial of freedom of navigation (FON) signals that China is absolutely serious in pursuing its claims, legitimate or otherwise. China is also seeking to expand its economic power through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by developing infrastructure within China, across Europe, Asia, states in Eastern Africa and throughout the Indian-Pacific region.

Growing Chinese assertiveness, together with an increasingly belligerent Russia and the unresolved conflict with militant Islam means that the US, the UK and their allies could possibly be faced with multiple contiguous threats. In the worst possible scenario Western forces may be confronted by belligerent actions short of all-out war in the Baltic Sea, the South China Sea and the Strait of Hormuz. The USN would find it difficult, if not impossible, to confront major naval actions by Russia, China and a Middle-Eastern country simultaneously. At the core of any response would be a USN Carrier Battle Group (CBG) however, there would be insufficient resources available to respond to these three scenarios. In this instance the US would look to both the RN and Marine Nationale (MN – French Navy) to provide carriers to supplement or even supplant US carriers.

CONCLUSION

Given the huge technological and qualitative advances the PLAN has made, particularly over the past decade, China can no longer be regarded as an irrelevant brown-water navy. The launch and subsequent operational deployment of the LIAONING signalled that Beijing had serious aspirations to become a naval power and to match the USN in the Indian-Pacific region at least. The SHANDONG and the Type 055D destroyers are further signs of this intention. Even though the Type 003 will mark a step change in capability it cannot be ignored that the SHANDONG is the most significant factor so far in securing the future of Chinese aircraft carrier construction, and her growing naval airpower.

These realities, and given the current strategic environment, together with the UK government’s desire to project a ‘Global Britain’ post-Brexit it could do well to prepare an adequate response to protect her own assets and those of her allies, committing not only to carrier aviation but to an expanded RN. It is only by doing so that the UK will be able to keep open sea lanes and choke points which moving beyond Europe are now vital to her trade with the world.
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[*] posted on 14-1-2020 at 02:26 PM


Chinese navy’s first Type 055-class destroyer enters service

Andrew Tate, London - Jane's Defence Weekly

13 January 2020


Nanchang, China’s first Type 055-class destroyer, was commissioned into the PLAN in a ceremony held on 12 January at the Xiaokouzi naval base south of Qingdao. Source: Via PLA Navy’s Weibo account

China's first Type 055 (Renhai)-class destroyer entered service with the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) on 12 January: an occasion marked by a long-anticipated commissioning ceremony held at the Xiaokouzi naval base south of Qingdao.

The significance of the event was reflected by the presence of PLAN Commander Admiral Shen Jinlong, who presented the ship's commanding officer and political commissar with its ensign and naming certificate respectively.

Named Nanchang (with pennant number 101), the destroyer was built at the Changxingdao shipyard near Shanghai. It displaces over 12,000 tonnes at full load, is 180 m long and has a beam of 20 m, which makes it slightly larger than the US Navy's 10,000 tonne Ticonderoga-class cruisers, which are 173 m long and have a beam of 17 m.

The principal armament of the Type 055 class centres around its vertical launch system (VLS), which comprises 64 cells forward of the bridge and 48 cells forward of the hangar. The VLS adopts the same universal silos for the missiles as the Type 052D-class destroyers and can launch HHQ-9 surface-to air-missiles, YJ-18 anti-ship missiles, Yu-8 torpedo carrying anti-submarine missiles and CJ-10 land-attack cruise missiles.

Nanchang was launched on 28 June 2017, commenced post build sea trials in late 2018 and on 23 April 2019 took part in the fleet review that marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PLAN. Thereafter, the ship underwent further sea trials and returned to Changxingdao on several occasions, probably for defect rectification and minor modifications.

The lengthy period of sea trials most likely reflects the significant number of new systems installed in the ship, particularly in its suite of sensors.

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[*] posted on 15-1-2020 at 10:14 AM


"...the ship's commanding officer and political commissar..."

Wonder where we've heard that idea before. Oh yeah, and didn't that work out so well for operational efficiency?




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[*] posted on 18-1-2020 at 04:01 PM


China Builds its last and final Type 056 Corvette

Posted On Friday, 17 January 2020 13:31

China will reportedly stop building its Type 056 corvettes after the navy shifted its focus to ordering bigger warships for high sea missions. China completed construction of the last Type 056 stealth-capable, guided-missile corvette, the Aba, in December 2019.


Type 056 Jiangdao-class corvette (Picture source: Chinese Internet)

The last of the 1,300-tonne guided-missile corvettes, the Aba, was completed in December, according to a recent report by the local media in the vessel’s namesake, Aba prefecture in Sichuan.
According to public reports, the first Type 056 was launched in 2012 and became quickly one of the most widely produced warships with at least 60 being built over the past eight years.

The 88.9 meter-long boat has a displacement of 1,300 tons and an endurance of 15 days. It is suited for mid-range missions and littoral duties, patrol, escort and protection of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), etc.

The lightweight model has been widely adopted thanks to its powerful armaments, which include a 176mm gun, two 30mm cannons, anti-ship and air-defence missile launchers and two torpedo tubes. It can also load a medium-lift helicopter on board and has great flexibility in near-shore operations.
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[*] posted on 21-1-2020 at 07:45 PM


Chinese Type 052D destroyer fitted with possible anti-ship missile decoy launchers

Andrew Tate, London - Jane's Defence Weekly

20 January 2020


A view of the stern of PLAN Type 052D destroyer Yinchuan. The warship has been fitted with what appears to be an anti-ship missile countermeasures system. Source: Via eng.chinamil.com.cn

Images have emerged of a Chinese Type 052D (Luyang III)-class destroyer fitted with what appears to be an anti-ship missile countermeasures system.

The photographs, which were taken during the nine-day 'Sea Guardian 2020' maritime exercise between the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and the Pakistan Navy (PN), show that the destroyer Yinchuan (pennant number 175) has been modified, with a pair of tubes installed on each side of the hangar roof, which appear to be roughly 500 mm in diameter and perhaps 2 m in length.

The system is similar in appearance to the US Navy's (USN's) Mk 59 decoy launch system, which can deploy an expendable inflatable decoy designed to seduce an incoming anti-ship missile. The Mk 59 was first fitted to Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage in late 2013.

The joint 'Sea Guardian 2020' exercise, which ended on 14 January, involved four PLAN surface vessels, two PN frigates and two missile boats, together with embarked helicopters and a total of about 120 marines.

The exercise was held in two parts, with shore-side briefings followed by a 72-hour phase at sea.

At the outset of the exercise the PLA-sponsored ChinaMil.com.cn website commented that the exercise was aimed at "enhancing the capabilities of the two navies to jointly cope with maritime terrorism and crime", adding that the manoeuvres had "nothing to do with the regional situation" and were not targeted at any third party.

It also reported that during the concluding debrief Senior Captain Ye Dan, commander of the Chinese naval fleet, had commented that "the first actual troop submarine rescue exercise at sea greatly improved the emergency underwater rescue capabilities of the two navies".

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[*] posted on 23-1-2020 at 12:16 PM


Chinese navy trialling new search radar

Andrew Tate, London - Jane's Defence Weekly

22 January 2020

China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is undertaking trials on a new search radar that may be intended for use on a future class of surface combatant or for retrofitting to current frigates and some destroyers.

The radar has been installed on the Type 909A (Dahua-) class trials ship Hua Luogeng (pennant number 892) and is configured with two inclined back-to-back planar arrays on a mechanically rotated pedestal. The two square arrays appear to be similar in size to the arrays of the Type 382 long-range surveillance radar, which is derived in part from the Russian-made Fregat MR-710 (‘Top Plate’) radar.

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[*] posted on 26-2-2020 at 11:10 AM


Shenyang resumes production of carrier-borne J-15 fighters

Andreas Rupprecht, Mainz and Juan Ju, Bonn - Jane's Defence Weekly

25 February 2020


Images released by SAC on 21 February show a J-15 fighter aircraft in green primer, suggesting that the company has resumed production of the aircraft type. The text on the image states, among other things, ‘full resumption of production’. Source: AVIC/SAC

Images released on 21 February in an announcement by the Shenyang Aircraft Company (SAC), a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), indicate that the manufacturer has resumed production of its carrier-borne J-15 multirole fighter aircraft.

The images, the publication of which comes about three months after the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) commissioned its second aircraft carrier, Shandong , show at least one J-15 painted in green primer - suggesting that the aircraft is part of a new batch - and technicians working on the platform at what appears to be a factory.

Although the SAC announcement does not specifically mention the J-15, the aircraft type can be identified by its shape and canards. The images also feature a short text, stating, among other things, "full resumption of production".

It is unclear, however, when the images were taken and whether the new J-15s will be different in any way from the ones currently in service with the PLAN on the service's first aircraft carrier, Liaoning .

That said, the technicians are wearing surgical masks presumably as protection against the Covid-19 coronavirus, indicating the images were taken relatively recently.

Since 2012 the J-15, which is a Sukhoi Su-33 derivative, has been the PLAN's sole fixed-wing carrier-borne aircraft. Only 24 of these aircraft had been delivered to the PLAN in two batches before production was apparently halted in mid-2017.

At least two J-15s have so far been lost and two more have been damaged, meaning that fewer than 20 of these aircraft are believed to currently be available for the PLAN's two carriers as well as for training. The additional aircraft will most likely be used to set up a second carrier-based air wing to be assigned to Shandong .

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[*] posted on 1-4-2020 at 01:29 PM


Number of PLAN vessels to increase by almost 20% over coming decade, according to US ONI estimates

Andrew Tate, London - Jane's Defence Weekly

31 March 2020


Some of almost 50 ships assembled for a PLAN fleet review held in April 2018. Source: Via Xinhua News Agency

China will have a naval fleet of 425 'battleforce' ships and submarines by 2030 - an increase of almost 20% over the next 10 years - according to a US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) report.

The ONI forecast was cited in a recently updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on China's naval modernisation and its implications for US naval capabilities that was published on 18 March.

The ONI report, entitled 'China: Naval Construction Trends vis-à-vis US Navy Shipbuilding Plans, 2020-2030', was prepared for the US Senate Armed Services Committee in February and, although it does not appear to be publicly available, data from the report has been incorporated into the CRS report.

The ONI data for 'battleforce' ships - defined as the types of ships that count toward the quoted size of the US Navy - puts the size of China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) as of 2020 at 360 vessels, including submarines, and forecasts a rise to 400 in 2025 and 425 in 2030. Using the same measure, the size of the US Navy is currently 297 vessels, with an aspiration to increase to 355.

The data has been tabulated to give a breakdown of how PLAN ship numbers have grown since 2000 to the forecast for 2030. The data on submarines is of particular value, as quantifying in-service platforms is difficult from open sources, given that the submarines do not display pennant numbers and information about submarine launches, commissioning, and disposals is not made public.

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[*] posted on 1-4-2020 at 01:35 PM


The aspect that somewhat annoys me about all of this scare-mongering, is the fact most of the PLAN fleet still consists of light Frigates and Corvettes armed with short-ish ranged SSM and Crotale-derivative SAM. Now whilst there may be a benefit with greater numbers, it's hardly of benefit when trying to assess the capability of the threat...………..

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