PLAN Naval Aviation Training Facility

Discussion in 'Navy' started by Jeff Head, May 21, 2013.

  1. Jeff Head
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    Jeff Head Super Moderator
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    PLAN NAVAL AVIATION TRAINING FACILITY

    The People's Republic of China is in the process of jump starting a complete carrier aviation industry and capability for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), and doing it in relative short order. Nations like the United States, which commissioned it's first aircraft carrier, CV-1, USS Langley in 1922, have been operating carriers and establishing their doctrine through war and peace over the last 91+ years. China is attempting to pull it together in less than two decades.

    INTRODUCTION

    This development has occurred over the last 10+ years as the PRC purchased, transported to Dalian Shipyards, and then completely refurbished and refit the former Russian Carrier, Varyag, into their own, modern short-take off but barrier arrested (STOBAR) carrier, CV-16, the Lianoning. The Chinese had studied numerous carrier designs before this, including the older Austalian Carrier, HMAS Melbourne, and two of the older Russian Kiev class carriers which they had purchased to scrap and/or create theme parks out of them.

    Towards the end of the construction/refit of the Liaoning, the PRC created an entire mockup of the carrier, from the hanger deck up, and set it atop a large research building on Lake Huangjia near Wuhan. This facility has continued to be developed and is now called the Wuhan Naval Research Institute. Deck handling, logistical considerations, armament and weapons handling, and hanger placement and movement of aircraft can all be researched and trained upon at this facility, which will be the object of a seperate article.

    Shortly therafter, the PLAN announced and then displayed and flew the prototype of a new carrier strike fighter, the J-15, which is an indegenous, modernized version of the Russian SU-33 aircraft. This aircraft, in conjunction with the trials and commissioning of the Liaomning has now started Low Rate Initial Productrion (LRIP).

    But simply having a carrier and having some fighters does not equate to carrier aviation. The individuals flying and maintaining the aircratf must also be developed, significantly trained, and steeped in carrier aviation doctrine, policy, and procedure. This is not an immediate process. It takes many years, and takes significant investment.

    The PRC, and the PLAN in particular are in the process of making that investment.

    After the commissioning of the Chinese carrier, the Liaoning, within a few months she departed the Dalian shipyards which gave her birth, and sailed to a new naval base that had been constructed for her near Qingdao on the East China Sea. This is her new home port, or home base, which was constructed at significant cost for the carrier and her escorts. This is a significant facility and will also be the object of another seperate article.

    THE NEW NAVAL AVIATION TRAINING FACILITY

    Throughout this later period, a new aviation facility and air base was being constructed on the shore of the Bohai Sea across from Dalian and well north of Tianjin. This base is a dedicated naval aviation training facility for the airwing personnel who will operate and maintain aircraft off of the Liaoning, and off of future carriers as well.

    Here are the location of the four facilites discussed. The new Naval Aviation Training Facility, the Dalian Shipyards, the new Naval Base near Qingdao which is the home port of the new Chinese Carrier, and the Wuhan Naval Research Institute:


    [​IMG]

    If we focus on the new Naval Aviation Training Facility itself, we find a large naval air base, still under construction, with numerous major features:


    [​IMG]

    These features include all of the following:

    1. A Simulated Aircraft Carrier Flight Deck:


    [​IMG]

    This has been laid out on a portion of the runway for the naval strike fighters, jet aircraft trainers, and helicopters to practice landing on. A close look at the "deck" indicates regular use from ongoing practice/training.

    2. An existing Ski-Jump Ramp:


    [​IMG]

    This ramp is an exact replica of the STOBAR ramp on the Liaoning and is being used to train pilots to take off ith the assistance of the ramp.

    3. A New Build Ski-Jump Ramp:


    [​IMG]

    This is a second ski-ramp for even more pilots to train off of. This indicates an increase in the tempo of the training/practise that will be going on at the base, training future carrier pilots for the PLAN carrier(s).

    4. Twenty-four Shelters for Naval Strike Aircraft:


    [​IMG]

    These shelters are for the safe keeping and protection of the J-15 strike aircraft that will be used at the facility to train PLAN aircraft carrier pilots. It is also a good indication regarding the airwing that will be located on the PLAN carrier, that it will most probably number twenty-four J-15 strike aircraft.

    5. Three Large Hangers for aircraft and helicopters:


    [​IMG]

    These hangers are for the safe keeping and protection of the training aircraft that will be used to initially train PLAN aircraft carrier pilots, and for the KA-31, KA-28, and other helicopters that pilots will need to be trained on to fly off of the Carrier. These helicopters are for AEW (Ka-31), ASW (Ka-28) and SAR (KA-25 and Z-9) purposes.

    6. Administrative, Command and Control, Training, Maintenance and Recreation:


    [​IMG]

    Significant infrastructure is being developed at this base. Buildings for administration, for command and control of the base, for training of pilots in class rooms, for maintenance of the aircraft, and for recreation can be seen already built, with new structures being constructed. At other section on the base, what appears to be signifcant housing units for personnel stationed at the base have been constructed.

    SUMMARY

    Clearly the PRC and the PLAN are investing large sums of money, facilities, personnel and equipment to this significant and strategically important endeavor.

    As they must.

    It is a daunting task which is not cheap and will take years to master, and then continue for many decades into the future. But clearly the People's Republic of China, through the People's Liberation Army Navy is intent on mastering it and has embarked on doing so.
     
    #1 Jeff Head, May 21, 2013
    Last edited: May 26, 2013
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  2. Jeff Head
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    Jeff Head Super Moderator
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    As we learn more about this facility and the poverall endeavor, please post news and reports and pictures and vdieos here regarding the training of the PLAN carrier pilots and personnel for naval aviation.

    This is something that will be a long term, ongoing process for the PLAN, and will be very interesting to watch and discuss as they progress.
     
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  3. Air Force Brat
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    Air Force Brat Senior Member

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    Thank you Head Master, this new Naval Aviation facility gives me confidence the PLAN is indeed proceeding nicely with the air wing even as many of us are scratching our heads as the Liaoning sits in its new home port. The Chinese business plan is even more mysterious than previously, some publicity to NO publicity????? Brat
     
  4. Jeff Head
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    Jeff Head Super Moderator
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    Well, there can be no doubt that they wholly are committed. The home port base and this naval aviation base are huge investments and very expensive propositions...all geared directly towards the advancement of the PRC/PLAN carrier and naval aviation programs.

    Beaucoup denero being spent on this.

    I expect to see some of the LRIP J-15 aircraft ultimately moving to this facility for training purposes...if they aren't already there.
     
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  5. kwaigonegin
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    kwaigonegin Senior Member

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    Very impressive. It would seemed to me that PLAN has been doing very careful and meticulous planning in forming their carrier aviation and ultimately achieving the goal of operating aircraft carriers and doing it right at that. I guess no less is expected of them. As far as I can tell no other nation has embarked on such a massive and ambitious program to get their carrier program going.

    USN has the advantage of operating carriers for 75 years so they don't need a one time massive investment like PLAN does but I think any country who is interested in acquiring a carrier should look at China as a blueprint to start that program. I give them an A for this.

    There is NO question in my mind that PLAN intends on being a true blue water navy in the near future and no looking back. They are also doing this right and I think their hardwork and investments will pay off in the future.

    Most countries who acquired carriers do not even come close to having anything close to that. They just buy or built the carrier/s, buy a few aircraft, sent their pilots and crew for training elsewhere, and pretty much call it a day. Even the old USSR in their prime did not have such a robust carrier program and they spent a much much higher percentage of their GdP on their Navy than China does.

    I think that in the next 10-20 years or so we will see PLAN transforms itself into a true blue water navy that is second only to the USN and far ahead of everyone else. Even India with it's huge investment on their own carriers will not come close in my projection.
     
    #5 kwaigonegin, May 22, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2013
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  6. Jeff Head
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    I tend to agree.

    The French and the UK have long standing programs and the knowledge and capability...but there programs are, and will remain, much smaller. Both countries will have together a max of 3-4 carriers.

    India is going to have to step up to hope to keep up with China. They need to build better indegenous fighters, and create the facilities to produce and maintain them. I believe they have the years of carrier experience under their belts...but they do not have the infrastructure.

    They may even produce an indegenous carrier before the PLAN...but the shear investment in infrastructure and industry that the PLAN and PRC are doing in China, will ultiantely tell the tale in favor of the Chinese unless India chages that dynamic.

    I would not count Japan out. They have a rich heritage in carriers, and are building their own now too...and they certainly have the technology and will to put together a strong program, and I believe they will. It just will not ever be to the scale the PLAN ultimately will have.

    But, when you combine Korea, Japan, the UK, Australia and France, you end up with a whole group of similarly motivated nations that exercise together quitre often and jointly could present a very strong united front if necessary.

    The US will continue as the major player in our life times...but the Chinese are going to enter the stage as the second major player within the next 15-20 years.
     
  7. Blackstone
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  8. franco-russe
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    That was an excellent and beautiful done report on Xingcheng-2 aka Huangdicun.

    I must confess I had not noticed the the three 55 x 35 m hangars at 40 30 33 N 120 39 22 E. They are not HAS, though, and not for J-15.

    They might be for JL-9G/H or more likely for helicopters.

    The 24 shelters for 24 J-15 are at the other end of the airfield, at 40 29 17 N 120 39 02 E. They measure in toto 615 x 35 m. They are the ones you in pictures behind e.g. J-15 556.

    There are no hardened aircraft shelters at Xingcheng-2. What HAS look like can be seen at a another naval airfield, Ningbo-Zhuangqiao. There they have two clusters of 9 each, at 29 54 59 N 121 34 50 E and 29 55 27 N 121 33 45 E.

    The SU-30MK2 seen in imagery of Zhuangqiao have since rebased back to Feidong, though there were still 5 in the latest GE update 03.03.13 (interesting detail, one of the two Y-8 seen on that day at 29 55 34 N 121 33 44 E is a KJ200).

    The five 41 x 24 m hangars at 29 55 26 N 121 34 05 E house the KA-28/KA-31 that are currently based at Zhuangqiao, but may rebase to Xingcheng-2.

    Edit: The five helicopter hangars at Zhuangqiao aggregate 4920 sq.m. The three at Xingcheng-2 aggregate 5775 sq.m. and can thus hold more helicopters than those at Zhuangqiao.
     
    #8 franco-russe, May 22, 2013
    Last edited: May 22, 2013
  9. kwaigonegin
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    kwaigonegin Senior Member

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    PLAN knows this better than anyone else which is why they are doing it more out of necessity than anything else. Unlike many other countries with carriers like you mentioned, PLAN doesn't really have a fellow 'carrier' ally they can pair up or join forces with that is why they have no choice but to do this on their own which is why I give them an A for effort and execution.

    They know full well if the fail in this endevor they can't really depend on any other country to back them up. There is no NATO, SEATO, ASEAN or Warsaw Pact etc for China. They have to be self reliant and self sustain. The good news is China is fairly conservative doctrinally and has no desire for expasionism. Their military is fairly isolationist and power projection will be used mainly to maintain their SLOCs. Taiwan/Senkakku etc is out of scope because those are viewed more from a historical context than from a colonization or empire building context.
     
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  10. delft
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    delft Senior Member

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    PLAN and the Central Military Commission will already had a good idea of the size and costs of the project before they went and bought Varyag. They first showed interest in the vessel in the early 'nineties but only bought her in 1998. It might well be that they needed six years to make the plans and decide that buying her was indeed a good idea.
     
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