Future PLAN carrier operations

AndrewS

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Yes, but building multiple airfields isn't as easy as you think, because of various societal issues. You are going to run into government roadblocks, social opposition, inter government opposition, or opposition because someone already owns that land. If you are building air bases in other countries, you are only allowed to build such in this number based on this agreement and so on. You cannot just find a piece of land and decide you want to build an air base on it.
In the context of operations in the 1st Island Chain, it's straightforward for the Chinese government to build additional airbases in mainland China.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
Just noticed this is an old thread that was recently resurrected from the grave.

Which is similar to the more recent "Future PLAN carrier operations" thread
 

Viktor Jav

Senior Member
Registered Member
Yes, but building multiple airfields isn't as easy as you think, because of various societal issues. You are going to run into government roadblocks, social opposition, inter government opposition, or opposition because someone already owns that land. If you are building air bases in other countries, you are only allowed to build such in this number based on this agreement and so on. You cannot just find a piece of land and decide you want to build an air base on it.
I highly doubt that public opposition is going to be a big issue in China, doubly so in a war scenario.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
There were some questions on the CSBA paper below, on how a carrier could maintain a UCAV CAP at 800-1000nm (1500-1800km)

It looks like they are basing this on the demonstrated range (3500km+) of the following UCAV prototypes.

Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie
Boeing Loyal Wingman
Northrop Grumman X-47B

So if you add some in-air refuelling, they would have the range to maintain a long-range CAP.
And it's interesting the Kratos target cost is $2M.

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We also see that China is developing a similar "Dark Sword" UCAV, that could extend China's land-based CAP in the same way.
But look at the geography.

China-Okinawa is 650km
Shanghai-Kyushu is 800km
Shanghai-Osaka is 1400km
Shanghai-Tokyo is 1800km

Guam is further away from China at 3000km, but the midpoint is 1500km.
China's larger number of airbases and presumably UCAVs should ensure air superiority at that distance.

And if UCAVs don't have an endurance limit, and can be refuelled at this distance, the Chinese Air Force could theoretically send in huge numbers of low-cost fighter UCAVs and ground attack UCAVs which could reach Guam and also ships some 3000km away

Implications

It would make the Chinese carrier programme a lot less important, because land-based UCAVs would be able to operate to the 2nd Island Chain.

US (and Chinese) aircraft carriers would also be disadvantaged, because they are expensive platforms with a limited capacity, because there is a shift from a small number of high-performance fighter jets to large swarms of lower-performance UCAVs.

But we'll have to see if this vision plays out.



In regards the the utility of aircraft carriers in the future, there was a study from the CSBA that looked at how the future US carrier operations and US carrier airwing might be reoriented for future high end warfare, circa 2040.

I strongly recommend a read of it because it lays out some interesting and IMO quite reasonable ideas for future carrier ops:
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Key ideas of note include:
- having carriers operate in groups of at least two
- having strike/anti surface warfare aircraft operate between 500 nmi and as much as 1000 nmi from a carrier
- use of long range multi mission UAVs for the purposes of strike, ISR, CAP, and ASW, including up to ranges of the aforementioned 1000 nmi, as well as unmanned electronic warfare aircraft
- having a long range fighter aircraft
- future carrier air wings will be required to operate 1000 nmi away from significant threats

Some representative summary images depicting air defense operations, ASW operations, and air refuelling operations for long range UCAVs are depicted below:

View attachment 53648
View attachment 53646
View attachment 53647


Of course, this above is all oriented for the USN's mission and threat profile that they may face going into the future, with the opfor of course being China.
However of note, is that this study continues down the path of having large nuclear powered super carriers and with large air wings that combine manned fighters and a large unmanned UAV/UCAV complement.

View attachment 53649

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Now, the question is what kind of mission would the PLAN see its carriers having for the high end fight in the medium to long term, and what capabilities would they need to fulfill it?
 
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AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
CSBA analysis of deliverable ordnance

Comparison between 4x SAGs versus 1x Carrier. Presumably these have an equivalent cost.


SAG.gif

Four Surface Action Groups could deliver more weapons compared to a CVW initially and almost as many weapons each day thereafter. Each of these forces cost approximately the same to procure. This chart assumes missile-equipped DDC carry 32 missiles each and are reloaded in a location 1,250 nm away from the operational area. Taking into account a transit speed of 20 kn, an evasion factor of 15 percent, and reload time, it would take a bit over 6 days for a DDC to return from a reload trip. The initial salvo from the four SAGs launches all DDG strike weapons (24 per DDG) and assumes 25 percent of DDG missile cells are devoted to strike weapons. In both the initial salvo and subsequent salvos, the DDCs in each SAG fire 24 missiles and serially rotate off station to reload as their missiles are expended, while DDGs remain on station providing command and control and defense over the SAG. The CVW is composed of 44 strike-fighters, 70 percent of which are operationally available each day; eight fighters are devoted to air defense of the CSG. Strike-fighters fly their combat radius from the carrier and launch standoff strike weapons that travel the remaining distance to their target. Strike aircraft are assumed to use drop tanks and refueling provided by Navy MQ-25 aircraft in the CVW or Air Force tankers.

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The implication is that Chinese Aircraft Carriers are a suboptimal means for delivering offensive missiles, and that they should focus of air superiority and surveillance.
And that offensive missiles should be carried by surface ships instead.
 

Tam

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Registered Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #316
CSBA analysis of deliverable ordnance

Comparison between 4x SAGs versus 1x Carrier. Presumably these have an equivalent cost.




The implication is that Chinese Aircraft Carriers are a suboptimal means for delivering offensive missiles, and that they should focus of air superiority and surveillance.
And that offensive missiles should be carried by surface ships instead.
The last part is pretty obvious. Assuming carrier with 24 J-15s, and we have seen J-15 take off from carrier with two YJ-83, if all these take off with YJ-83, that would be 48 missiles only. Let's say half of them would take off with YJ-83 and half is escort, that would be 24 missiles. That's only four Type 054A. YJ-83 is a bit outdated too, analogous to Harpoon. Lets say in theory, each of the 24 J-15s would mount a YJ-12 or YJ-62 under the belly, and in consideration for the greater weight of these, each J-15 can only carry one of these. That's just assuming for mental practice; we know they don't and are not equipped for it. The Shenzhen carriers 16 YJ-12s, each of the 052C carries 8 YJ-62, and God knows what a 052D or a 055 can carry as these two ships can be flexible.

In addition to air superiority and surveillance, the other thing the Chinese aircraft carriers can provide is electronic warfare support, if the ships can use J-15Ds. It is not necessary for the J-15s to be armed with YJ-91s or other ARMs, just fuel and jammers. They might achieve a much greater impact on these.
 

AndrewS

Captain
Registered Member
Graphic of a Chinese carrier group from Modern Ships magazine via

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Ships summarised as:

Close in carrier escort
2x Type-55 Large Destroyer
1x Type-52D Destroyer
1x Type-54A Frigate

Radar Picket
2x Type-52C Destroyer
2x Type-54A Frigate

CSG.jpg
 
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