BEIJING, January 22 (ChinaMil) -- A Google Maps satellite photo considered to be showing a Chinese "carrier on land" has aroused heated discussions among military fans on the Internet in China on January 21, 2015. Actually, Chinese media released clearer photos of a "carrier on land" years ago. Foreign media also intensively hyped the verified purpose of this "carrier on land".
Chinese military experts believed that though the real purpose of this "carrier on land" could not be determined yet, the tests conducted by China for some equipment before it is installed onto ships are quite normal, whether China is reconstructing its "Liaoning" aircraft carrier or building a new home-made aircraft carrier. Since the "Liaoning" warship has been made public for so many years, there is no need to over-interpret this “carrier on land”.
Chinese "carrier on land" arouses another round of hype
An updated Google earth satellite photo shows a huge building suspected of being an aircraft carrier and a model building suspected to be a large surface warship somewhere in central China.
The distance measurement tool indicates that this suspected "carrier on land" is about 300 meters long and 80 meters wide, and on the deck of the aircraft carrier is a suspected carrier-borne aircraft J-15. This is widely regarded as a same-size model of an aircraft carrier. The large surface ship at the bottom right of the photo is considered as the model of the superstructure of China's 055 destroyer.
In fact, the clear photo of this "carrier on land" had appeared in Chinese media before. Chinese media went to the new district for the China Ship Design and Research Center located in Wuhan in October 2009 to photograph the building for the "carrier on land".
The released clear photo shows that the carrier model is quite exquisitely made. The deck and superstructure, in particular, look almost the same as those of a real carrier.
The "carrier on land" uses the gray coating of the Navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLAN). A fully sealed mast structure is built above the "ship island", with phased-array radars mounted. In addition, one phased-array radar is mounted respectively on the left sides behind and in front of the "ship island".
The photo then also shows that there are a large helicopter and a suspected same-size model of J-15 on the deck of the "carrier on land". Chinese netizens believed that this shows that "the builder intends to build a carrier test platform".
What's the use of a "carrier on land"?
Actually, foreign media had intensively reported the "carriers on land" in China years ago. Russia's Izvestia reported in November 2009 that the news about China's building of "carriers on land" had "startled Russian Navy", and some experts believed that "China is attempting to use models on land to help improve its design of real carriers".
The report claimed that Andrei Chang, editor in chief of Canada's Kanwa Defense Review, said in an interview with ITAR-TASS that the "carrier on land" appearing in Wuhan is completely modeled based on Russian Navy's operational carrier "Admiral Kuznetsov", and is "almost a same-size clone".
Andrei Chang said that the carrier building appearing in the new district for the China Ship Design and Research Center in Wuhan has copied in full scale the “ship islands” of "Admiral Kuznetsov" and "Varyag", and is an exact-copy version of the carrier facility.
He further explained that during construction of the carrier, the PLAN has to consider many tiny technical differences. The complicated calculation of the size of the "ship island" cabin and the installation and debugging of radars and electronic devices, in particular, as well as laying of internal cables for different purposes, all require tests on a same-size model.
Andrei Chang believed that the above work makes it necessary to build a "carrier on land" as the test platform. He also stressed that the No. 701 Research Institute located in Wuhan should be the general design unit for China's first-generation aircraft carriers.
Japan's Sankei Shimbun reported that the completed "carrier on land" in Wuhan may imply that the development speed of China's aircraft carriers has far exceeded what the public has estimated, that is, China has entered the final stage of engineering design from the conceptual design stage, and its supporting subsystems for aircraft carriers have entered the actual test stage. As it is impossible to test all the subsystems on the "carrier on land" in Wuhan, China may have built similar platforms in other places so as to test the sonar, power and ship-borne weapons of the aircraft carrier.
No need to over-interpret
China's "carrier on land" recently exposed by the Google earth photo is not new. The only difference is that a suspected model of 055 is added beside the "carrier on land".
An unnamed Chinese military expert said that to look at the matter from militarily angle, an architectural model of "carrier on land" may help designers understand the carrier's deck and hangar space and cubic capacity, and facilitate a visual impression.
However, this effect is being weakened. The current three-dimensional design technology on the computer may create a three-dimensional image on the computer, and designers may view it from 360 degrees.
An on-land model of the warship helps test some equipment, such as radars, electro-optical systems, communicators and radomes, and conduct the key EMC verification. In foreign countries, on-land tests will also be conducted when the ship-borne equipment is tested, especially when the electromagnetic compatibility test is conducted.
This expert said that the specific use of these two warship models remains to be publicized. The media of western countries had also mistaken a cement carrier located in the suburb of Shanghai for a "carrier on land" with military use. Actually, it was a military theme park built by the Amusement Equipment Co., Ltd.