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China Develops Catapult-Launch Aircraft Carrier

© AP Photo / Xinhua, Zha ChunmingIn this undated photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a carrier-borne J-15 fighter jet lands on China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning
In this undated photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a carrier-borne J-15 fighter jet lands on China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning - Sputnik International
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It has been confirmed that China continues to develop its Catapult-Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) program for aircraft carriers, after the identification of a Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark carrier-borne fighter with CATOBAR apparatus, the US Naval Institute reported Thursday.

Earlier this year, photographs of the Huangdicun Airbase posted online indicated that Chinese aircraft carriers would be configured for Catapult-Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) operations, according to HIS Jane's. The J-15 aircraft viewed in photos appeared to have a catapult launch bar on its nose wheel, making it likely to be one of the first Chinese aircraft to test CATOBAR infrastructure. The Chinese J-15 is powered with Russian AL-31 turbofan engines.

At the time of the initial sighting, HIS Jane's wrote "So far there has been no official confirmation of the programme nor visible evidence of the construction, but there has been considerable speculation that production of the initial modules is already in progress."

A US Navy crew member looks at an F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter landing onto the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, during a joint naval drill between South Korea and the US in the West Sea off South Korea on October 28, 2015 - Sputnik International
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Nearby, in Dalian, China, an aircraft carrier is currently being constructed using the Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) method of aircraft operations. STOBAR makes it more difficult to operate heavy and less-powerful aircraft in seagoing carrier operations, preventing China from taking full advantage of its air power.

Use of the enhanced CATOBAR system on future carriers will support the operation of a well-rounded carrier air wing, with heavier and more efficient aircraft, according to US Naval Institute.

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