Can China leapfrog the US in the scramble for the world’s best aircraft carrier?

China’s jet launch system for next carrier ‘better than US design’, top military engineer claims

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2017, 11:40pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 April, 2017, 6:01pm

China’s systems to launch and catch carrier-based aircraft are more advanced than those ­designed for the new generation of US supercarriers, according to a ­Chinese expert in the technology.

Rear Admiral Ma Weiming, a top engineer working on the project, said on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress on Monday that China had made breakthroughs in its advanced ­arresting gear (AAG) system designed to retrieve aircraft at sea, while the US had stumbled.

“The Gerald Ford cancelled its AAG and reverted to its original [arresting wire] system. We have no such problem,” he said, referring to the US’ new class of aircraft carrier.

He also said China’s electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) was more advanced than comparable US technology.

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“We have long overcome [all technical difficulties in EMALS]. I have ­already moved on from this [area of research and development],” he said.

Saying he was just a scientific researcher, Ma declined to say when his advanced technologies would be installed on China’s homegrown carriers.

Ma’s remarks come as China moves ahead with its carrier construction programme. Its first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, is nearing completion and is expected to be launched in the first half of this year.

Construction of the second one, Type 002, is also under way.

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An earlier report by the South China Morning Postsaid China would not adopt the highly ­advanced EMALS technology on the Type 002 but instead rely on a conventional system.

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said Ma had made “a certain advances” in AAG technology, compared with the US.

Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said the US AAG engineers had underestimated the difficulty of developing the technology and China may have been able to take note of this to make progress.

“Ma’s team .... may have learned lessons from their US counterparts, and made some breakthrough on AAG development,” Wong said.