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Ski jump reveals China's naval plans

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12 August 2009 19:36

If there was any doubt left at all that China is pursuing an aircraft carrier capability, these new images from a Chinese military airfield put the issue to rest: 

Note the barbed wire in the foreground, indicating the photo was taken by a Chinese military or aviation enthusiast. My thoughts on that subject here.

As for the middle ground in the photo, that innocuous structure is known as a 'ski jump', and it gives fixed-wing aircraft the lift they need to launch from the confined space of a carrier deck. Since there's no other useful purpose for such a structure at an airfield, it's fair to surmise that China is testing the ski jump for later use onboard their new carrier.

The Americans don't launch naval fighters this way — they use catapults to fling aircraft off a flat deck. But that's expensive and complex, so the British pioneered the use of the ski jump to help them launch their Harrier jump jets. The Russians then picked up the idea; here's how they use it onboard their sole carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov (apologies for the Godawful soundtrack):

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