China’s navy struggling to find qualified fighter jet pilot for 3 aircraft carriers: Report

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China’s navy, which recently commissioned two aircraft carriers and launched a third in June, is ramping up its pilot training program as it seeks pilots qualified enough to fly fighter jets from aircraft carriers, based on media reports. I am having trouble with him. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is having difficulty meeting the growing demand for skilled ship-borne fighter jet pilots to fly J-15 jets designed specifically for aircraft carriers.

PLAN has intensified carrier-based fighter jet pilot training programs in the decade since the commissioning of its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, but a lack of a fighter trainer specifically designed for carrier-based operations hindered progress. Dali, according to an article published in the Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Chinese military magazine.

With China’s third and most advanced aircraft carrier, Fujian, starting sea trials last week, the PLA needed at least 200 qualified carrier-based fighter jet pilots to operate 130 ship-borne aircraft, Beijing-based Naval expert Li Jie was quoted as saying. by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post on Saturday.

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Fujian is equipped with advanced electromagnetic catapults, similar to the US supercarrier Gerald R. Ford, while China’s first two carriers had ski-jump designs, so the Navy would have to master a new aircraft launch and recovery system. Official media reports said China plans to produce more aircraft carriers to match the strength of the US Navy.

“It’s fraught with challenges, because aircraft design and pilot training is one of the world’s most difficult and complex core technologies, which no one will share with you,” Lee said. Defense experts say that while China is producing aircraft carriers at high speed, there is still a work in progress for J-15 carrier-based fighter jets, which were said to be too heavy to deploy on aircraft carriers. . China is rapidly modernizing its navy, launching a warship almost every month or two.

Dai Mingmeng, who flew the J-15 prototype on its maiden flight from the deck of Liaoning on 3 November 2012, when he was 41, was one of the first five Chinese pilots to receive ship-borne certification. He and other senior carrier-capable pilots are now training the latest generation.

State-run China Central Television said the Navy has recruited cadets directly from high school graduates aged 16 to 19 since 2020. The latest generation of new naval aviation pilot cadets had an average age of 20, at least 10 years less than their predecessors.

The PLA Navy began training its own pilots – rather than selecting qualified candidates from the Air Force – after the establishment of the Naval Aeronautical University in Yantai, Shandong Province in 2017 – taking a similar approach to that of its US counterpart.

PLAN’s pilots use the Chinese-built JL-9G, a single-engine twin-seat aircraft that first appeared in 2011 as a carrier-trainer version, but was used to simulate an emergency landing on the flight deck. Can’t be done for because it has flaws. Too light and too slow, Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Chinese magazine, said in a report on September 25, 2012, marking the 10th anniversary of Liaoning’s commissioning. Those loopholes have seen it limited to land-based simulated carrier training, the Post cited in the report.

“Over the past few decades, the US military has been using the T-45 Goshawk carrier-qualified trainer to train its pilot cadets. Now, the Americans have developed a more advanced version, the T-7A Red Hawk, which Equipped with a more powerful General Electric F404 afterburning turbofan engine that will make ship-borne fighter pilot training more efficient.”

China’s only ship-borne fighter jet, the twin-engine single-seat J-15 Flying Shark, has been called the world’s heaviest carrier-borne fighter, as it weighs 17.5 tonnes and has a maximum speed of over 2,960 km/h. Is. The gross weight of the JL-9G trainer is just 7.8 tonnes and its top speed is Mach 1.05.

“The PLA does not have the luxury of owning a trainer such as the T-45, so the career-based training of Chinese pilot cadets relies entirely on flying the J-15, which is a great way to improve their flying skills. The challenge is. [because of the absence of a back-seat coach]The report of the Chinese magazine said.

In April 2016, two J-15 fighter jets crashed, resulting in one death and one seriously injured. China has developed a twin-seat version of the J-15 known as the J-15S, but recent footage shown by state media has confirmed that the platform was designed to be a ship-mounted J-15D electronic warfare aircraft. , Macau-based military analyst. Antony Wong Tong said.

“Why aren’t China’s J-15s converted into trainers like the Americans did,” Wong said, adding that one factor could be cost, which would be much higher.

Zhou Chenming, a researcher at the Beijing-based Yuan Wang military science and technology think tank, told the Post that while China was still testing twin-seat J-15s, they took a similar approach to the Americans when they replaced the F-15 Eagle. . In various versions, including the twin-seat F-15E Strike Eagle.

With inputs from PTI

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