Secret: In what way did the first domestic aircraft carrier surpass the Liaoning ship?

  On April 26, 2017, the launching ceremony of China’s second aircraft carrier was held at Dalian Shipyard of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation. The picture shows that the aircraft carrier is slowly moved out of the dock and docked at the dock berth under towing.

  Since the first domestic aircraft carrier was launched on April 26, 2017, it has attracted the attention of the whole world. This is another major milestone in the construction of the People’s Navy’s comprehensive three-dimensional combat force system in the open sea, which has laid an important material and technical foundation for accelerating the strategic transformation and development of "offshore defense and offshore protection" and taken another solid step towards building a world-class "blue-water navy".

  As the first aircraft carrier designed and built by China itself, the domestic aircraft carrier is closely related to the Liaoning ship that was delivered to the navy for service on September 25th, 2012, but there are many major technical improvements, which just corresponds to the old saying — — The pupil outdoes the master.

  The first domestic aircraft carrier was designed and built on the basis of the comprehensive restoration of the Liaoning ship. There are many similarities in appearance and structure between the two. They also adopt the layout of ship-based fighter planes with sliding takeoff and upturned flight deck. We should know that the aircraft carrier is a major symbol of the modern navy, and it is a large surface warship with the largest volume, the most complex system, the most comprehensive technology and the most powerful ability. China didn’t have any experience in designing and building an aircraft carrier in the past, but only repaired, refitted and continued to build a Liaoning ship. Did it fully master all the key technologies in designing and building an aircraft carrier? By building the first domestic aircraft carrier, comprehensive inspection can be carried out, which is also conducive to consolidating and strengthening the comprehensive support capability of the Liaoning ship. This also reflects the active, steady and steady development of weapons and equipment that China people have always followed.

  On the road to the construction of China Navy’s aircraft carrier, Liaoning took the first step. The first domestic aircraft carrier consolidated and accelerated this step, connecting the past with the future in the technical research and capability improvement of aircraft carrier design and construction, and accumulating experience for building a larger aircraft carrier. In a few years, a large aircraft carrier formation flying the five-star red flag will surely sail in the coastal areas of Wan Li and the open ocean.

  Aiming at sea and air three-dimensional operations

  Many netizens called the first domestic aircraft carrier a "replica" of the Liaoning ship. In fact, the first domestic aircraft carrier achieved a comprehensive technical upgrade on the basis of the Liaoning ship, which is called "seemingly strong". The biggest difference between the two is that the functional positioning and mission use are very different.

  The function orientation of Liaoning ship is firstly the research and test platform and training platform of aircraft carrier, and its main task is to complete a large number of research and test tasks of aircraft carrier and carrier-based fighters, and to carry out batch selection and training of carrier-based fighter pilots. After more than five years of exploration and training, the Liaoning ship has expanded to form a maritime formation combat capability. From the very beginning, the first domestic aircraft carrier was positioned as a large-scale aircraft carrier combat platform, which was a new starting point for the construction of the comprehensive combat force of China Navy aircraft carrier.

  A large-scale combat platform at sea with carrier-based aircraft as its main weapon is also vividly called "floating airport at sea". On November 14th, 1910 and January 18th, 1911, respectively, the US Navy successfully carried out the technical test of taking off and landing an aircraft on a ship for the first time. The British navy is the first, successfully refitting the world’s first aircraft carrier in 1918, and has gone through more than 100 years of development. Looking back at history, the aircraft carrier completely replaced the battleship’s maritime hegemony in just over 20 years, and promoted the maritime combat from the "era of giant ship artillery" dominated by battleships and cruisers to the "era of sea-air three-dimensional missile warfare" dominated by aircraft carrier battle groups, carrier-based fighters and anti-ship missiles.

  In modern maritime mobile operations, the position and role of aircraft carrier battle group are irreplaceable, and its comprehensive combat capability is mainly reflected in two major indicators: first, the number and quality of carrier-based fighters and airborne weapons; The second is the quantity and quality of warships and shipborne weapons allocated in the carrier battle group and the strength of formation combat capability.

  Optimize the ship-aircraft adaptation performance.

  More than 100 years ago, when the aircraft carrier came out, there were only propeller planes with piston engines. The aircraft structure was simple and the flight speed was slow, and the requirements for the carrier platform, that is, the aircraft carrier, were relatively low. After the end of World War II, the advent of carrier-based fighters with jet engines greatly promoted the upgrading of aircraft carriers, especially the rapid development of technologies such as catapult takeoff device, auxiliary landing system and arresting device. The types of carrier-based aircraft are also increasing, including fixed-wing fighters, rotary-wing helicopters, vertical/short-range take-off and landing aircraft, rotary-wing aircraft, drones and so on.

  Carrier-based fixed-wing fighters play a crucial and decisive role in the combat effectiveness of aircraft carriers, and their quality and quantity are important indicators to measure the combat capability of aircraft carriers. Carrier-based fighters can be divided into three types in take-off and landing modes: one is catapult take-off and blocking landing; The second is to take off and stop the ship; The third is vertical or short takeoff and landing. The first domestic aircraft carrier adopts the second method, which has certain restrictions on its operational application.

  Technically speaking, catapult takeoff is the best choice, which can maximize the operational effectiveness of carrier-based fighters. This requires overcoming the catapult technology. In the past, aircraft carriers in various countries have been using steam catapults. Ten Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the US Navy and the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the French Navy all used steam catapults made in the United States. But the development direction of catapults is electromagnetic catapult. The first ship of the Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier of the US Navy has taken the lead in loading and using, and the research team led by Academician Ma Weiming of China Naval Engineering University is also studying this topic.

  The full-load displacement of the first domestic aircraft carrier is several thousand tons larger than that of the Liaoning ship, and the sliding flight deck design is still used, but the design of the upturned angle of the flight deck has been upgraded and improved. The tilt angle of the flight deck of Liaoning ship is about 14 degrees, and the tilt angle of the flight deck of the first domestic aircraft carrier is reduced to 12 degrees. The main basis for this major technical improvement comes from a large number of flight test data accumulated by Liaoning ships and J -15 carrier-based fighters. The ship-to-aircraft compatibility between domestic aircraft carriers and J -15 fighters is more optimized than that of Liaoning ships, which is conducive to giving full play to the maximum operational effectiveness of J -15 fighters with skid-jump take-off.

  Structural design is boldly abandoned.

  In terms of structural design, the first domestic aircraft carrier was completely designed according to the standard aircraft carrier, which was different from the design concept and operational application idea of developing aircraft carrier (carrier cruiser) in the Soviet Union.

  The predecessor of the Liaoning ship was the unfinished Varyag, which was the sister ship of the only carrier Kuznetsov in service in the Russian Navy, that is, the second ship of the third-generation carrier cruiser of the Soviet Union. The carrier cruiser of the Soviet Union is very different from the fleet aircraft carrier of the United States. The Soviet aircraft carrier has a small displacement, and there is no catapult take-off device for carrier-based aircraft. Usually, it is only equipped with about 24 carrier-based fighters, and its comprehensive capability is relatively limited. Only carrier-based fighters can not complete all air and sea combat tasks. Therefore, a certain number of long-range anti-ship missiles are equipped to form an integrated anti-ship combat capability of missiles and carrier-based aircraft. At the same time, it is also equipped with relatively complete long-range ship-to-air missiles and medium-and short-range air defense weapon systems.

  In combat missions, the Soviet naval carrier mainly focuses on underwater operations, that is, protecting its own nuclear submarines and attacking enemy nuclear submarines, usually with about 15 anti-submarine helicopters. The US aircraft carrier mainly relies on carrier-based aircraft to "win the world". Carrier-based fighters complete air combat, sea (land) assault, electronic attack and other combat tasks. Early warning aircraft provide long-range warning and command guidance, and anti-submarine helicopters and submarines undertake joint anti-submarine missions. The aircraft carrier is not equipped with long-range offensive weapons such as anti-ship missiles, but only equipped with necessary short-range air defense weapon systems.

  Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier is equipped with a large number of ship-borne missile weapon systems, such as 12-unit SS-N-19 large-scale long-range anti-ship missile vertical launching system hidden under the flight deck, and 4 sets of 6×8-unit SA-N-9 long-range ship-to-air missile launching devices. The Liaoning ship dismantled the relevant devices of these missile weapon systems during the repair and continued construction.

  The reason why Russian aircraft carriers are equipped with a large number of missile weapons is mainly due to their limited comprehensive combat capability. Su -33 of the Russian Navy and F/A-18E/F of the US Navy are both heavy carrier-based fighters. Although Su -33 is slightly superior to F/A-18 in some tactical and technical performance, Su -33 takes off in a sliding mode and F/A-18 takes off in a catapult mode, and its comprehensive combat capability is better than Su -33. In addition, the Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier can only carry about 40 carrier-based aircraft, including 24 Su -33 and Su -25 carrier-based fighters, and its combat capability is far less than that of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier of the US Navy. Therefore, the Russian army had to make the aircraft carrier have both the long-range anti-ship missile attack capability of heavy cruisers and the air defense interception capability of medium and long-range ship-to-air missiles.

  Setting a large missile launcher under the flight deck will have a great impact on the use of carrier aircraft. If a missile is launched, the flight deck needs to be emptied before the missile launcher can be opened, and then the carrier-based aircraft cannot take off. Russian long-range anti-ship missile is huge and vertically installed under the flight deck, which needs to occupy a lot of internal space and will also have a negative impact on the hull structure design. The main weapon of the standard aircraft carrier is the carrier-based fighter. Below the flight deck is a large transparent hangar for the storage, maintenance and repair of the carrier aircraft. The first domestic aircraft carrier is no longer equipped with anti-ship missile launchers, and the hangar is larger and can carry more carrier-based fighters.

  Information ability is advancing by leaps and bounds

  As a large-scale maritime mobile airport, an aircraft carrier needs to have both navigation and aviation functions in order to effectively complete the operation and use of various types of carrier-based aircraft, and it is inseparable from various uses and advanced electronic information equipment, including navigation electronic information systems to ensure maritime navigation, aviation flight control electronic information systems to ensure the take-off and landing of carrier-based aircraft, electronic information systems to command and guide carrier-based aircraft to perform air combat tasks, and electronic information systems such as ship-based air defense, sea defense and electronic alert, as well as air-sea combat mission formation. Although the body and volume of the aircraft carrier are larger, it is also a huge technical problem to install these electronic information equipment in a limited space because of the huge number and types of electronic information systems.

  The carrier’s shipborne electronic equipment includes formation combat command information system, navigation and avionics information system, etc. On the basis of the trial installation and use of Liaoning ship, the first domestic aircraft carrier was further improved. For example, the improved large-scale active phased array radar installed above the starboard ship island has been widely used in a new generation of guided missile destroyers, with advanced performance and increasingly mature technology, and accumulated more and more experience. Its comprehensive performance is far ahead of that of Russia, with longer air detection distance and stronger ability to detect air targets. It can detect and distinguish hundreds of air targets at the same time, and its ability to command and guide air defense interception is stronger. This will help to improve the air defense capability of the aircraft carrier formation and the ship.

  At present, the first domestic aircraft carrier is nervously carrying out the outfitting project after launching. With the decrease of "scaffolding" on the ship surface, the date of trial flight of domestic aircraft carrier is approaching gradually. I believe that in a few years, the first domestic aircraft carrier will be transformed into the second aircraft carrier in the service of the People’s Navy, and the goal of China Navy’s "blue-water navy" construction into a distant ocean is gradually becoming a reality.