Saturday, May 4, 2013

China's first training base for carrier-born aircraft

Chinese naval officials working at a land-based training facility for carrier-capable jets have taken some time to explain how their training works.

Pilots at the testing facility are practicing on China's home-developed J-15 fighter jets.

The jets have been designed specifically to take off and land on the Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier.

But before the pilots get a chance to practice on the Liaoning, they have to train at the land-based facility, the exact location of which hasn't been officially disclosed.

Every pilot will have to pass a series of tests at the site before they'll be cleared for test training at sea.

The training center is set up to mimick what it will be like to land on the aircraft carrier, including landing using arresting cables.

Landing and taking off from an aircraft carrier is much different for a pilot than it is from a land-based airport.

As such, over 27-hundred flights took off and landed at the land-based test site before any flight testing first began on the Liaoning.

Tian Wei is a squadron leader at the training base. He says they've made up 10 different manuals to help the pilots through the nuances of learning how to operate their jets at sea.

"The follow-up training is very crucial. For example, a manufacturer makes a gun and shows you how to load the bullets and how to shoot. However, it requires a lot of practice if you want to hit the target, and hit it with accuracy. As such, we drafted a program and manual for our pilots to follow."

The training staff at the facility aren't taking any chances before letting the pilots test on the Liaoning.

The testing facility has been made more difficult to land on than it will be on the Liaoning.

There is only one arresting cable across the landing zone.

The aircraft carrier has 4 cables which the pilots can hit to allow them to stop.

Zhou Chunshan is the deputy commander of the training base.

"Land-based training is mostly focused on landing practice. Landing is the most difficult thing for a pilot to do on an aircraft carrier, so accuracy and consistency is the most important thing for our pilots. We record their landings and map how well they are progressing."

Authorities running the land-based training base say they are hoping to make improvements on the field to give their pilots more practice and training with simulated aircraft carrier take-offs as well.

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