Naval Air: New Chinese Carrier Aviator Training Center

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December 31, 2010: Satellite photos have revealed a new Chinese naval aviation training center on Hulu island (up the coast from Dalian in the Yellow Sea, where the former Russian carrier Varyag is being refurbished as a training ship). This center is similar to the one in Ukraine. Two years ago, Chinese officials visited Ukraine and inspected the naval aviation training facilities that were built there before the Soviet Union dissolved. Ukraine wanted to use those facilities to establish an international center for training carrier aviators, and hoped to attract the Chinese as customers. But the Chinese were apparently just taking notes.

China also expressed some interest in working with Ukraine to supply key components for the aircraft carriers China is building. Ukraine supplied many components for Russian carriers back in the days of the Soviet Union (which Ukraine was a part of). Now independent, Ukraine is eager to find customers for local manufacturers that can produce carrier components. Russia is no longer building carriers, despite talk of restarting that program.

A major Ukrainian product the Chinese are interested in are ship engines, especially the large ones a carrier would require. Chinese gas turbines are not all that efficient and reliable. The Ukrainian UGT-16000 and UGT-25000 turbines, developed from the DT-59 they have been making since 1975, are major competitors for General Electric models used in large ships. Ukrainian firms build a number of other world class components for large ships, and China is looking to acquire equipment, and technology. Ukraine is aware of the fact that the Chinese steal technology, but right now Ukraine needs the business, and China needs the turbines and technology. But so far, like carrier pilot training services, there has been no sale. China has bought some technology from Ukraine, but a limited amount of actual hardware.

 

 


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