China’s New Aircraft Carrier, CNS Shandong, Only Suitable for Coastal Patrols, Says Russia

By | May 05, 2017 04:02 AM EDT
Second aircraft carrier

CNS Shandong during her launch. (Photo : PLAN)

Russian state-controlled media has revealed that China's much vaunted first indigenous aircraft carrier -- the CNS Shandong (CV-17) -- is only capable of coastal patrol missions near the shores of mainland China and is patently unsuitable for long-distance, blue water patrols into the Pacific Ocean.

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The Russians also claim that "without Russian engineering the vessel would never have been built."

They also pointed out their key contributions to building the Shandong were the vital engineering and concepts, which together contribute to the "Russianness" of this warship.

A curiously anti-China story in one of the Kremlin's main propaganda websites reminds readers that China's first aircraft carrier, CNS Liaoning (CV-16), began life as the Soviet Union aircraft carrying heavy cruiser, Varyag, before China bought this rusting hulk in 1998 and refurbished it.

"The prototype of the very first Chinese aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was the Soviet 1143.5 series project, which also spawned the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, as well as Ukraine's Varyaga, which was sold to China in 1998," said the story.

The story also said that "China might not want to admit it, but there are many Russian aspects to the Shandong."

Varyag became the model for Shandong's builders, claims Andrei Frolov, chief editor at Export Vooruzheny magazine.

China "preserved the 1143.5 project's overall concept and engineering solutions, which include, for example, planes taking off with help from a rising deck and not steam or electromagnetic catapults. Another particularity is combining the features of a missile cruiser and an aviation group in one ship," according to Victor Murakhovsky, chief editor of Arsenal Otechestva magazine.

Murakhovsky pointed out that the Soviet concept for building its warships was that each vessel had to have the maximum number of offensive and defensive weapons systems to maintain a technological advantage over U.S. Navy warships.

One of the shortcomings of the 1143.5-project, and consequently the Liaoning, is its small aviation wing.  The story said that because of the Liaoning's many missile systems, heavy planes can't take-off; only light fighters can. This disadvantage has been inherited by the Shandong.

Taken together, the disadvantages besetting the Shandong means this aircraft carrier "will primarily patrol coastal areas and not the ocean" because its puny aircraft complement renders it more vulnerable to U.S. Navy aircraft and missile attacks.

Patrolling close to the Chinese mainland in wartime means Shandong will remain within China's anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) defense network where it will be protected by land-based intermediate range ballistic missiles.

Shandong was launched last April 26. 

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