China’s Crappy Aircraft Carriers

At the distant Changxing Island YuanSha Port dock, the aircraft carrier Fujian quietly sits. Google Earth’s satellite images present us with a stunning scene. Upon careful observation, you will notice two apparent fissures appearing towards the rear of the carrier’s flight deck; one in an L-shape, stretching 50 meters, the other a straight line, 30 meters long. This shocking discovery has sparked widespread debate online.

Although some netizens speculate that these might be arrestor cables photographed from high altitude, from another perspective, they indeed resemble cracks. Moreover, these supposed cracks’ location at the rear of the carrier does not align with the usual position of arrestor cables. Another guess is that these could be cracks in the special coating material on the deck. However, if the coating could crack so significantly, it reflects that the flatness of the deck fails to meet the required standard. How then, could such a deck guarantee the safe take-off and landing of aircraft? Those with knowledge inside the CCP have highlighted that an aircraft carrier is a complex entity that demands comprehensive capabilities for its operation. It is not simply a matter of constructing a large, flat ship and placing aircraft on top of it. The internal workings of an aircraft carrier consist of numerous intricate systems, such as steam turbines, communication systems, logistics systems, avionics systems, and personnel systems, among others. Additionally, an aircraft carrier relies on the support of airborne early-warning aircraft, escort systems, and supply ships, forming a multifaceted network. China still faces significant deficiencies and noticeable gaps in the overall carrier system.

Therefore, last August, after Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan, China conducted military exercises around Taiwan, but their aircraft carriers were noticeably absent. The absence of aircraft carriers from such a large-scale exercise may stem from two reasons: first, China’s carriers may genuinely be incapable of participating in large-scale group combat exercises; second, their participation might expose the carriers’ weaknesses.