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Pre-requisites for developing aircraft carriers

07-27-2011 15:56 BJT Special Report:China Refits Aircraft Carrier “Varyag” |

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The aircraft carrier is a large warship operating on water. Since China has already become capable of forging a super oil tanker with a capacity of 300,000 tons, why does it take so long time to forge an aircraft carrier whose capacity is only about 60 thousand tons? What kind of pre-requisites and technologies does a country need before developing an aircraft carrier?

The aircraft carrier is a large warship operating on water, which represents a country's integral power in realms including military and technology. Modern aircraft carriers are complex in structure, bearing a huge tonnage, and are comprehensive systematic projects. Though China can design and manufacture ships with hundreds of thousands of tonnage for domestic use, the country still meets challenges in building military ships, which require special design for protection, invisibility, arms arrangement, and electronic devices.

A vessel reported to be the Ukrainian-made aircraft carrier "Varyag", which China
bought in the 1990s, is seen at a port in Dalian, Liaoning province, in this April 17,
2011 file picture. The former Soviet carrier Varyag, bought from Ukraine in 1998 and
once destined to become a floating casino, is part of President Hu Jintao's grand
scheme to modernise the navy. China is currently refitting the old aircraft carrier
to be used for research and training purposes, state media cited the Defence Ministry
as saying on Wednesday. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

Yin Zhuo, military expert, said, "Though many people think building aircraft carriers and the common large oil tankers are quite comparable, they differ greatly in building technology. The aircraft carriers are forged according to military standards. The steel used is alloyed steel, distinguished from that in building common oil tankers. It is essential to guarantee the aircraft carriers’ ability to attack and defend. Generally, an aircraft carrier can bear the attack of 7-8 torpedos, 30-40 small scale missiles, or 10 large missiles. Therefore, due efforts must be made to prevent aircraft carriers sinking or suffering from any attack."

Forging an aircraft carrier is a complicated process, due to the heavy body of the carrier and its role as a platform for airplanes to take off and land. Hence technological requirements to build the engine, airplane, planes’landing and taking off devices, lifts, arms, radar antennal are different from building other ships, as they are all key sections in building an aircraft carrier.

Yin Zhuo said, "When the aircraft is taking off or landing, the end part of the aircraft carrier should not swing up and down to exceed two meters, and its degree of slant should not exceed two degrees. It is very strict because if the slant is steep, then it would be very dangerous when the aircraft lands on the flight deck. Furthermore, the radar system, the anti-aircraft missiles, anti-air guns and other equipment all impose difficulties for the building of aircraft carriers."

Besides the technic demands, strong economic foundations are also essential criteria for developing aircraft carriers. Experts believe the fighting ability of an aircraft carrier is not strong enough, while in formal situations at least three aircraft carriers are necessary: one is for operational disposition, another is for training and the last is for repairs, all of which put forward a higher need for strong economic foundations. In 1961, it cost America 265 million dollars to build the Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier; 2.1 billion dollars to build the Eisenhower aircraft carrier which it finished in 1979; the Truman aircraft carrier which entered the service in 1999 cost 4.5 billion; the Bush aircraft carrier which entered the service in 2009 cost 6 billion; and the Ford aircraft carrier which is under construction will cost over 10 billion.

China is the last country to own an aircraft carrier among the five permanent U.N.Security Council members. It is believed that decades of endeavor by researchers in national defense will create a bright future for China to design the world's advanced super aircraft carriers.

Editor:Liu Fang |Source: CNTV.CN

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