Wednesday, October 02, 2013

This Carrier Thingy is Hard

The fact that operating fixed wing aircraft has a long and bloody learning curve is no news to readers here - but this stuff coming out of Chinese state media is interesting. Via our friend Wendell Minnick over at DefenseNews;
In an unusual departure for mainland Chinese-language media, the Beijing-based Sina Military Network (SMN) criticized the capabilities of the carrier-borne J-15 Flying Shark as nothing more than a “flopping fish.”
What sounded more like a rant than analysis, SMN, on Sept. 23, reported the new J-15 was incapable of flying from the Liaoning with heavy weapons, “effectively crippling its attack range and firepower.”

The fighter can take off and land on the carrier with two YJ-83K anti-ship missiles, two PL-8 air-to-air missiles, and four 500-kilogram bombs. But a weapons “load exceeding 12 tons will not get it off the carrier’s ski jump ramp.” This might prohibit it from carrying heavier munitions such as PL-12 medium-range air-to-air missiles.

To further complicate things, the J-15 can carry only two tons of weapons while fully fueled. “This would equip it with no more than two YJ-83K and two PL-8 missiles,” thus the “range of the YJ-83K prepared for the fighter will be shorter than comparable YJ-83K missiles launched from larger PLAN [People’s Liberation Army Navy] vessels. The J-15 will be boxed into less than 120 [kilometers] of attack range.”

Losing the ability to carry the PL-12 medium-range air-to-air missiles will make the J-15 an “unlikely match” against other foreign carrier-based fighters.

“Even the Vietnam People’s Air Force can outmatch the PL-8 short-range missile. Without space for an electronic countermeasure pod, a huge number of J-15s must be mobilized for even simple missions, a waste for the PLA Navy in using the precious space aboard its sole aircraft carrier in service.”
Maybe they're taking lessons from the American maritime blogosphere. The flopping fish comment is exemplary.

Perhaps this is a push for the construction of a super-carrier like the Americans have ... or a pushback by proponents of land-based air?

Who knows, but interesting nonetheless.

Hat tip thinkdefence.

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