Originally posted by chadderson
For some reason this just seems weird.
USA has been doing this for some time now. It is very hard for me to believe that China is JUST NOW reaching the ability to do this.
Is the MSM attempting to make China seem less of a threat with stories like these? The other side of the spectrum says that China is more advanced
than the USA in terms of technological military advances. Who really knows? Military junk is never told to the public anyway. I dont believe it.
Carrier operations are one of the most complex and dangerous military operations that any nation undertakes on a regular basis, outside of actual
combat. The skill set involved is unique, and the environment is unforgiving in the extreme. The fact that China is just now starting to work out the
details isn't surprising at all....it's also not evidence of 'Chinese backwardness', or of some strange conspiracy.
Any military capability, be it the simple things like "march in formation" or "fire your weapon at the target", or the complex things like carrier
operations or in-flight refueling, exist because of three factors:
If the people in charge of a military don't perceive a need for a capability, it won't be developed. Land-locked countries don't usually deploy
navies, tropical countries don't usually train alpine infantry. They have other things, better suited to their situation, to expend money and
resources on. Until recently (a few years ago), the PLAN considered its power projection needs well met by land-based air. Without the perceived need
to develop carrier operations, they simply didn't bother doing it.
2) Technical Capability:
Just because you need it doesn't automatically mean that you can build it. If I listed every military project that addressed a real need, but
couldn't be implemented because of technical limitations, this post would turn into a forum (or perhaps a library) of its own. Just off the top of my
head, the nuclear powered bomber and most of the 1950's-era cruise missiles would be good examples. Once the PLAN decided there was a need for
carrier operation (see above), they had to find a solution to the technical problem. They opted to purchase and refurbish a Russian hull, which may or
may not have been the best idea, but until they had *some* hull to work with, they couldn't start working on operational techniques.
Just because you can build it *once* doesn't mean that it's a practical weapon or system. Once you've built one (or a few) of something, you may
find that it's too complex, too expensive, or that there's a much easier way to meet a particular need. Examples of this from the past would be the
B-70 Valkyrie and B-58 Hustler (both considered too expensive), the Safeguard ABM system (ditto), or the USS Triton (by the time she was built and
tested, the USN could do radar picket duty with airborne search radar). This is where the Chinese are now. They have a working carrier (to at least
some extent), they have at least a few pilots who can operate aircraft from it. Over the next few years, the PLAN will have to reach its own
conclusions about whether blue-water carrier operations are a practical solution to their power-projection needs. The fact that it *will* take them
years to make that call, as noted in my opening, isn't due to any failure of intellect on their part, or to any 'conspiracy of the carrier-operating
nations' (good luck getting the US, France, the UK, Russia and India to agree on *anything*
). It's simply the normal cycle of doctrinal development that's happened in every military since Alexander was a raw recruit.