Technical Problems, Slowing Economy Cut China’s Carrier Ambitions - Plans to build more than four aircraft carriers apparently put on hold.

BONE_Buddy

That Defense Sperg.
kiwifarms.net

China’s rapidly developed aircraft carrier program – once expected to grow to a fleet of six or more ships in the next decade – may now be limited to four hulls by budgetary and technical constraints.
The PLA Navy has two aircraft carriers afloat, the Liaoning, a re-fitted ex-Soviet carrier, and an indigenously built evolution of the Liaoning design, the Type 001A that launched in 2018 and currently undergoing sea trials. A third larger, more advanced design, the Type 002, has been under construction since 2017 and a second of that type is planned. The South China Morning Post reports that those two Type 002 carriers will be completed, but that a planned fifth carrier and a future nuclear-powered carrier design have been put on hold.

This is a significant contraction of China’s carrier ambitions. Earlier this year, Chinese naval experts claimed that the PLA Navy would have at least six carrier groups by 2035 and that four of them would be led by nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. Chinese President Xi Jinping tasked the PLA to complete modernization by 2035.

But internal military sources told the SCMP that engineers were struggling to overcome technical challenges with the Type 002 and also lacked the expertise to translate its experience with nuclear-powered submarines to propel a new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier design. “There is no plan to build more aircraft carriers,” the source said.

If this is true, it appears to have been a rapid change in the PLA Navy’s strategic direction. The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank, procured commercial satellite images earlier this year that show China has added massive new shipbuilding infrastructure to the facilities currently building the Type 002 carrier. A CSIS expert told Reuters that “It is hard to imagine all this is being done for just one ship. This looks more like a specialized space for carriers and or other larger vessels.”

China’s carrier ambitions, and the new shipbuilding infrastructure that appears to have been built to support that ambition, may have been products of a more hopeful strategic environment and more generous economic situation. Over the summer, military sources told the South China Morning Post that the PLA Navy was reconsidering its shipbuilding plans in light of China’s slowing economy and the massive costs associated with not only building a large modern fleet, but operating and maintaining it. These decisions would not just affect aircraft carriers, but China’s advanced new destroyers and amphibious assault ships as well.

The spiraling costs of China’s new fleet highlights the uncertain strategic return on its investment. Aircraft carriers are only as effective as the aircraft that can take off from it, and China faces even greater technical barriers to building advanced, next-generation carrier aircraft than it does making the carriers work for them to take off from. “China may need 10 to 20 years to develop a new generation of carrier-based warplanes, meaning the J-15 is likely to be the main warhorse for some time, despite it still having engine and flight control problems,” once source told the SCMP. Without new aircraft, the combat capability of China’s carrier fleet will remain at a significant disadvantage to the United States’.

Further, with the Liaoning and first Type 002, half of China’s carrier fleet will also be beset by so-called “first-in-class problems,” technical and engineering issues that aren’t apparent in new designs until the ships begin to be operated. Some of these problems can never be completely corrected, leading to the first ships of new designs having more limited capability than subsequent ships of the same design. For these reasons, the PLA Navy originally envisioned Liaoning filling only training and testing roles, not an operational combat one.

But If China’s carrier fleet is ultimately limited to only four hulls, having one relegated exclusively to training significantly reduces its capacity to conduct operations. As a result, the PLA Navy says that it is upgrading the Liaoning to be able to serve some combat role. In April, senior officers on the Liaoning told Chinese state media that “The Liaoning is shifting from a training and test ship to a combat ship. I believe this process is going faster and faster, and we will achieve our goal very soon.”

China may also be coming to terms with the challenges that its carrier fleet would face operating within the so-called first island chain. Southeast Asian navies have been rapidly expanding and modernizing their submarine fleets. Singapore is procuring four advanced submarines from Germany, Indonesia is buying and indigenously assembling a new submarine fleet from South Korea, and Vietnam has been procuring a fleet of advanced Russian submarines.

Armed with modern torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, these submarines could severely limit the ability of China’s aircraft carriers to operate freely in the South China Sea in a conflict. Elsewhere in the western Pacific, South Korea and Japan both produce advanced indigenous submarines, and Taiwan is developing its own domestic submarine program. And outside the first island chain, China’s carriers would have to face the United States’ premier nuclear-powered and modernizing submarine fleet.

Faced with greater technical challenges and lower operational effectiveness than expected, an increasingly threatening operating environment, spiraling costs, and a slowing economy, China’s possible decision to truncate it aircraft carrier fleet looks less surprising and more like strategic prudence.

-End of Article-​
While China's Navy is advancing rapidly, we should not believe for one second that they are infallible. The US and regional allies are in the process of countering the Chinese buildup, and it is starting to appear that we may have a little bit more time than anticipated.
 

HeyItsHarveyMacClout

We also got cake
kiwifarms.net
I've been saying this for years. The rise of China is the greatest threat to world peace and Western dominance. Aircraft carriers are by design projections of power. No country builds an aircraft carrier to protect their borders, they build them so they can influence weaker countries and bomb strategic targets. I wouldn't be surprised if they were building 4 of them so they could plop one down right in the middle of the South China Sea, and the others in front of Kyoto, Sydney, and the straight of Ceylon

Inb4 the "Technical Issues" were something similar to Stuxnet, and this was an intentional cov-op by the CIA/FBI to delay their program
 

ZeCommissar

Cutest commissar this side of the segmentum
kiwifarms.net
If China actually gets a blue-water navy on the scale of the US (they have a lonnnnnnnng way to go) then that's when global American hegemony will be truly threatened. No other nation besides Britain in the past has been able to project so much power from so far away compared to the other major powers from it's shores.

But they still have huge leaps to go if they want to equal the power of the 10 Nimitz carriers we have. Even if China did ascend to the same status as the US in terms of tonnage and firepower I would say the US has far more experience in maintaining, and efficiently using such a large navy than China so i'm honestly not that worried about it.
 

Sackity

Yo, buddy. Still alive
kiwifarms.net
Asians appear to have bad luck with Aircraft Carriers. Just look at what happened at Midway.
Japan's Submarine Aircraft Carriers were pretty ace though. They were the largest of all the WWII submarines, and the larger ones could carry 2-3 aircraft.

Completely useless since they didn't go ahead with the biological warfare plan they intended on carrying out them with. They'd even had training for it conducted, but by then the tide of the war was turning against Japan so attacks on the continental US wouldn't make sense.
 

RodgerDodger

kiwifarms.net
Yeah, this has been obvious to Naval historians and observers for awhile now. When it comes to Carriers, the US, Brits and French make it look easy. (Of the modern carrier equipped navies). Largely because their navies developed Carriers organically from the days of the converted coal barges, learned the basic baby steps through the piston engine propeller craft, eventually evolving to jets and modern super carriers. Learning, 1000’s of lessons and developing tightly interwoven operational doctrine and technology as they went. Modern Carriers are simply the small visible point of a vast web of skills, technology, resources, doctrine, and most importantly expenses. It’s very very hard to jump right into the advanced carrier jet operations when you have no history of getting there.

The Russian’s are 1000x better at Naval Operation than the Chinese. With enough technological capability to in theory make Carriers work. And it’s been a disaster for them each time they have tried. The Liaoning‘s sister ship the Admiral Kuznetzov is a complete disaster. It’s the only Carrier in the world that can only leave port with a dedicated Sea Tug as part of its Carrier Group. It’s been used in one Military Operation in it’s decades long service. Last Year in Syria. After about two weeks of escalating problems and disasters they sent the ships air wing to operate from a land base and sent the ship home. Rumors are the Chinese if anything have even more problems than the Russians. The second natively built Chinese Carrier is by all reports even worse. It rides so low in the water that it honestly risks being swamped and sunk should it ever encounter a Typhoon. No joke. And that’s before you get into any problems involving aircraft. Because they started building the fucker before they had learned any practical lessons from trying to operate the hand me down Russian Abomination. They basically copied a carrier design that doesn’t work, and made it worse because they didn’t know how and why it doesn’t work. There is several decades worth of operational learning to get from this point, to the point where Carriers are a Strategic Asset that can project massed air power anywhere in the world. What they have is a pair of clumsy ships that can each launch 6-12 lightly armed and half fueled strike fighters at a launch rate of about 10 minutes per plane. They’re not getting good value for money out of these things.

This surprises nobody. You can’t learn how to make carriers work through espionage. Your Navy has to learn how From the ground up. And that’s not easy to do when you insist on playing in “Hard Mode”. It’s like learning how to Vidya Game by starting with Dark Souls. While using a shitty unresponsive MadCatz controller.

China publicly rolling back their Carrier program might also be a sign of just how bad their economy is truthfully doing. Analysts will tell you to never believe what the Chinese say about their economy. Pay more attention to what they do. When you see visible signs of them scaling back massive national prestige projects. Things that would elevate them as a Super Power, that’s gonna be a much better idea of the economic situation.
 

Sackity

Yo, buddy. Still alive
kiwifarms.net
The second natively built Chinese Carrier is by all reports even worse. It rides so low in the water that it honestly risks being swamped and sunk should it ever encounter a Typhoon. No joke. And that’s before you get into any problems involving aircraft. Because they started building the fucker before they had learned any practical lessons from trying to operate the hand me down Russian Abomination. They basically copied a carrier design that doesn’t work, and made it worse because they didn’t know how and why it doesn’t work.
...
This surprises nobody. You can’t learn how to make carriers work through espionage. Your Navy has to learn how From the ground up. And that’s not easy to do when you insist on playing in “Hard Mode”. It’s like learning how to Vidya Game by starting with Dark Souls. While using a shitty unresponsive MadCatz controller.
They even had the benefit of an ex-British/Australian Aircraft Carrier (HMAS Melbourne) with its catapult intact to study and copy, and yet the results of their carrier programme continue to be subpar.
 

RodgerDodger

kiwifarms.net
They even had the benefit of an ex-British/Australian Aircraft Carrier (HMAS Melbourne) with its catapult intact to study and copy, and yet the results of their carrier programme continue to be subpar.
Declining to start with Catapult operations is probably one of their few wise decisions. They are expensive, with an incredibly high learning curve. And when the Catapult breaks you are kinda SOL. Catapults are a whole new level of complexity and potential disaster. And better hope yr panes are designed for catapults from the ground up, otherwise it gets real ugly. But at least if you figure it out you can get fully loaded planes off the deck, and launch a decent number of them in the air quickly.

ski jumps are not a great solution unless you have an SVTOL aircraft. Standard Navalized Horizontal Takeoff and Landing Aircraft need pretty much the entire ship length to either launch or land with a ski jump. Meaning you can only do one or the other, not both at once. As the takeoff and landing portions of the deck intersect and occupy the same space. And even then you are launching aircraft that are very lightly armed and have greatly restricted fuel. All while hoping your bastard of a boat can stay up over 30 knots to get the planes in the air. But at least the ski jumps have no moving parts and aren’t prone to rip your planes in half or fire random crew members into the sea if you do it wrong.
 
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