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INTRODUCTION:   The entry of China’s first aircraft carrier, the LIAONING, into service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) attracted considerable attention from both the Chinese press and military observers around the world. It is China’s first aircraft carrier, and symbolizes the Chinese militaries intention to modernize its armed forces. Though the intimate details of the carrier are not clear, but fundamental specifications of the vessel are available.     The Nimitz-class super carriers are a class of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in service with the United States Navy. The lead ship of the class is named for World War II United States Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Chester W Nimitz. Nimitz has been symbol of United State’s military might, and has been used to project power far from its coastlines.

  In this video, Defense Updates compares the 2 aircrafts carriers based on 5 key aspects, and provides an unbiased conclusion.   So, let us get started.   DESIGN:   The Kuznetsov-class aircraft carriers were the last class of aircraft carriers designed for the Soviet Navy.   Two hulls were laid down in the Ukrainia before the Soviet Union collapsed. Kuznetsov serves today in the Russian Navy.

    The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers were designed to be improvements on previous U.S. aircraft carriers, in particular the Enterprise and Forrestal-class.   All ten Nimitz-class aircraft carriers were constructed between 1968 and 2006 at Newport News Shipbuilding Company, Virginia, in the largest dry-dock in the western hemisphere.

  Size has undeniable impact on the capability of any aircraft carrier as it determines the number of aircrafts that it can operate. Liaoning’s air wing of 30 Shenyang J-15 multirole fighters falls well short of Nimitz class capability to hold over 55 jets.   It can be easily inferred that Nimitz has a distinct advantage over the Liaoning.   SPEED & ENDURANCE:     Liaoning is powered by gas turbines with 8 boilers. The propulsion limits the Liaoning’s range and endurance. Also, steam turbines can be unreliable and even dangerous. Like at least one occasion during recent sea trials, Liaoning appeared to suffer a steam explosion that temporarily knocked out the carrier’s electrical power system. The failure was reported by Chinese media site Sina.com.


Nimitz class is powered by two A4W nuclear reactors, kept in separate compartments.


  AIRCRAFTS:   The J-15 aircraft are Chinese-modified variants of the Russian fourth-generation Sukhoi Su-33. Fourth-generation fighters boast digital flight avionics and advanced radars that represent a significant improvement over the analog systems of third-generation aircraft.

Chinese J 20 stealth fighter is not for meant for carrier operation, and it will be sometime before it inducts a stealthy carrier born aircraft.


  The Nimitz strike fighters are primarily F18 Hornets, and F18 Super Hornets. These are twin-engine carrier-capable 4th generation multirole fighter aircrafts.


LAUNCH MECHANISM:

Liaoning uses ski ramp to assist aircraft takeoffs. The U.S. Navy uses a more efficient steam-powered catapult system to launch aircraft.   Ski-jump aircraft carriers have limitations ,regarding how much ordnance can be loaded.     The weight restriction issue is caused by a minimum airspeed requirement for flight from an aircraft carrier. Ski-jump aircraft carriers generate their airspeed from the run-up distance on the deck of the aircraft carrier and an assist from the ski-jump.


RADAR , WEAPONS & ARMOR:

Liaoning is equipped with 3D air surface search radar over the main mast, and four multifunctional APAR (active phased array radar) panels.


Nimitz class possess multitude of different radars including electronically scanned array 3D radars. It is equipped with 16 to 24 RIM-7 Sea Sparrow or NATO Sea Sparrow missiles. RIM-7 Sea Sparrow is a US ship-borne short-range anti-aircraft and anti-missile weapon system, primarily intended for defense against anti-ship missiles. Its range is 19 km.



  CONCLUSION: China's aircraft carrier, as well as the rest of its rapidly modernizing navy, puts Beijing in an elite club with the greatest naval powers in the world.

Liaoning is an impressive first attempt by China.


But as evident from the comparison, Nimitz class is far ahead of Liaoning in terms of inbuilt technology as well as the overall ecosystem.

China's first home-built aircraft carrier is nearing completion. Satellite photographs indicate most major construction is complete, though much remains to be done, the carrier probably won't be operational until 2020 at the earliest.

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