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Subject: Chinese Aircraft Carrier Catapult Research Facility?
warpig    4/9/2010 9:41:08 AM
Pictures from GoogleEarth have now been posted at China-Defense and on Chinese internet sites that show some sort of test track facility in the Shanghai area (the "Jiangchuan Road" facility is what one poster called it). It does not look to me like an actual carrier deck catapult facility configured to actually conduct aircraft launches, as there is no provision for any aircraft at this facility. However, it does look like something that could be testing catapult technology and designs. Another poster outlined in a close up of the track a section of interest that apparently is about the right length for a carrier catapult. On the other hand, the test track is *much* longer than necessary for a catapult, and it seems to me that it could also be for use in some other type of high speed sled testing (just exactly what other sort of testing, I haven't a clue). When I first saw the area view I did get pretty excited by what appeared to be a ski-jump at the front. However, the close-up clearly shows that it is not ramped or elevated at all, and I was initially fooled by the tapering outline at one end of the track. All-in-all, I find it very interesting, and it certainly appears like it could be involved in testing of aircraft carrier catapult technologies.
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warpig       4/9/2010 9:47:08 AM" width="590" border="0" />" width="1024" border="0" />" width="1023" border="0" />
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Hamilcar    Okay WP, I'll bite.   4/9/2010 10:36:04 AM" /> 
If the PRCs are running a sled facility, why is it so short, and why no braking arrestor?
That is our test catapult  
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warpig       4/9/2010 11:03:27 AM
Well, like I said, maybe it is some other sort of high speed sled facility, but if it is I don't know what it is.  The section that was indicated as being of interest in the close-up photo was said to be 110m long.  That would make the entire track about 720m long, with most of it under the long shed to the right in the images.
Here are some other pictures that were posted.  This is a USN facility.  Obviously one difference is that this one is capable of actually launching aircraft.  Still, the catapults themselves seem similar to whatever this Chinese equipment is." width="1023" border="0" />" width="1023" border="0" />
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Hamilcar    On that I agree.   4/9/2010 3:02:47 PM
But I am NOT a catapult expert. We really need someone who works with those, to take a look. He would see the braking arrestor and the shoe in the PRC device whatever it is, because he would recognize that instantly. I know that I didn't see it. 
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gf0012-aust       4/9/2010 5:12:37 PM
the "longer" strip might be due to it doubling up as accomodating conventional air such as transports which might need the longer runway.

there is no rail line nearby, so anything coming in (parts, components, cat related gear of significant size etc...) would need to be aired or heavy trucked in. 
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warpig       4/9/2010 6:17:03 PM
But gf, it's not an operational airstrip in any way.  There appears to me to be nothing about that facility that indicates aircraft land there at all.  Those last two pictures I copied into this thread are of a US Navy airfield.
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gf0012-aust       4/9/2010 6:33:19 PM

But gf, it's not an operational airstrip in any way.  There appears to me to be nothing about that facility that indicates aircraft land there at all.  

damn shame there aren't higher resolution images as hard launch and landing marks would show up.  it does look  pretty "inert" as is though....
no evidence of EOR barriers etc either.....  
what would be  interesting in higher resolution would be where the camera emplacements are.....

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gf0012-aust       4/9/2010 6:38:09 PM
actually, its quite odd as there is no runway return at the end - which is strange if they are testing aircraft....

the returns are all for road vehicles - and not connected to a return carousel..... 
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warpig       4/9/2010 10:31:14 PM
That's what I'm saying.  The whole thing is less than 2500ft long and only 75ft wide for most of its length, a twin-rail track of some sort runs right down the center for the length of the "runway" (for lack of a better term) as does a long shed (though of course that could be removed), there are no overruns, no taxiways, no apron, no hangars, nothing.  In its current configuration it is not for landing aircraft, and I really doubt it could be for launching aircraft.  If its function is related to catapults at all (and the idea that it is is only circumstantial based on appearances), it is purely for R&D into the catapult components themselves.
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Hamilcar    Here's what we've seen.   4/10/2010 12:43:38 AM" width="500" height="385" />" width="500" height="375" /> 
The wonders of digital photography (on the ground and from commercial satellites) provide evidence that China is testing the use of its Su-30 aircraft and a ski ramp type carrier deck design. China is expected to have an operational carrier soon, and it will be one using a ski ramp (instead of a steam catapult). It was suspected that there was a ski ramp training facility somewhere, now it's been located, in Xian-Yanliang. What's strange about this is the altitude of this airbase; nearly 500 meters (rather than sea level.) Then again, Xian-Yanliang is a windy place, which allows testing of the stationary ski ramp built there, with winds typical of what would be encountered when the carrier turned into the wind for the commencement of aircraft launching operations.
That would seem to indicate that they've tested the concept in an inexpensive and think they can make that work. Bow that they have it they will continue to use it.
The choice of location makes sense.
What about this other "catapult track" facility location do we know about its prevailing winds and other weather?      

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