Comment on PLArmy Navy launched its third aircraft carrier

The thread from /r/warshipp*rn (redditors trying not to sexualize everything challenge failed) was actually quite fair. This comment about it's capabilities was quite good.

Talking from an purely military capabilities perspective, joining the CATOBAR club - especially with a carrier of this size - is a MASSIVE leap forward in capability, both today and in terms of future potential (and a largely homegrown design, to boot)

For one, the deck space isn't just physically larger because this is a bigger ship. The lack of a ski jump on the front means there is a lot more room to park more planes. The air wing that can be embarked can carry many more planes than before - and this also means that larger planes (the Flanker family is already huge, but now you can throw in things like their version of the E-2... or a future aircraft the size of the Whale, the A-3 Skywarrior which was 76 feet long, 72 feet wide, and 81,000 at max takeoff weight) can be parked that couldn't have existed on their previous carriers.

In addition, the larger landing area means they could potentially recover even heavier aircraft. Remember stories of how the F-14 couldn't practically recover on board with a six AIM-54 Phoenix payload since they'd exceed max arrested landing weight without jettisoning missiles or flying home on fumes? More bringback means your aircraft can carry more actual loadouts.

And since they have now had two carriers with arresting gear landings, they at least have a cadre of pilots that have experience with recovering on a carrier. Launching is easy (a cat shot is a religious experience... it's fucking awesome) relative to recovering (can turn incredibly terrifying really quick)

Most importantly, the inclusion of catapults means they can fully utilize the Flanker family at sea. Flankers are BIG aircraft - the J-15 is supposedly really heavy, in the ~39,000 pound empty class. For reference, the F-35C is the heaviest Navy fighter right now, at 34,000ish pounds. The Flanker also carries a fuckton of fuel - over 20,000 internally. The F-35C carries just under that internally - but has no external drop tanks. A Flanker with external tanks has some potentially ungodly ranges.

So now it's no longer limited to a ski jump Short Takeoff, where max takeoff weights are going to be lower due to the finite deck space available (all a ski jump does is help move your thrust in the direction of lift to help shorten the equivalent takeoff roll if it were done on a flat deck). It also no longer automatically needs to takeoff in AB as you would in a ski jump launch - and at over 1,000 pounds of gas per minute, less time using AB on a launch means more gas you can squeeze out. Because instead, it is being assisted to go from zero to whatever takeoff speed is needed for the load.

I don't know how many of you noticed this, but in the photo of the three ships, there is a third launch position further aft along the port side on the STOBAR ships. This longer run is the sole position where you can launch heavier takeoff weights than the two forward positions. Having three catapults now means you could launch all three at those heavier takeoff weights - and probably a lot more than what the ski jump used to even allow on the longest run.

So now you can throw more specialty aircraft in. You are no longer limited to STOVL designs or high T/W aircraft (which more often than not means you have lower weight limits and higher engine requirements). The entire reason you can operate something like a turboprop E-2 off a Nimitz-class or the CdG is because of the catapult launch to get a heavy aircraft (an E-2 weighs ~40,000 pounds empty!) with a giant radar and other equipment on board to a takeoff speed that can safely fly away even if it lost a motor during the launch.

This will open a lot doors for the PLAN. Want a tanker for organic tanking? Remember, 10,000 pounds of fuel is still 10,000 pounds of weight. That doesn't work well with a STO launch. With a catapult? As long as the catapult and airframe can take it - you can launch it. Now you can pass a ton of gas internally and externally to someone else. So now your carrier's striking range is no longer limited to the inherent range of your aircraft - you can now extend their range significantly without having to be within range of land-based tankers AND your non-tanker aircraft can focus on launching with the big weapons you want to use to strike even further.

I'll put it this way - if you can only fly 450 miles and launch light weapons that can only go 100 miles, your effective combat radius is 550 miles.

Now if you can fly 450 miles - and get tanked to go another 250 miles - and can launch bigger heavier weapons that can go 300 miles, your combat radius is now 1000 miles. You can cover a LOT more ocean with that kind of combat radius.

It's a huge step for China's Navy. As if the 2020's weren't interesting enough.