China’s Carrier on Dry Land

Thought I’d sign off for the day with this image from Google Maps showing the mock up of the aircraft carrier Shi Lang that the PLAN built at the Wuhan Naval Research facility on the shore of Huangjia Lake in China. Zooming in shows a model Su-33 carrier-borne fighter and what looks like some sort of fake helo on the deck (also notice the ski jump on the bow). The phony carrier has been known about for a long time and this has been visible for a while so it’s nothing new. Still, it’s interesting to see it from above. Here’s a link to it on the map.

The picture below from the Scramble forum shows the fake carrier under construction. Pretty cool to see it looking like a carrier on top and just another building below the “flight deck.”

  • dah

    Does the US have a fake carrier like this, or do we use regular runways?

    • Cheesed

      We use regular runways, and sometimes we even use regular aircraft carriers.

      • TLAM Strike

        Back in WWII the Navy converted two paddle wheel steamers in to carriers and operated them on the Great Lakes for training! Seriously!

        Anyways I think the PLAN was using the training ship Shichang for heli ops and flight deck handling training in prep for the new carrier. As for the landing on a carrier at sea, well that will just have to wait until the Shi Lang leaves port.

      • Trooper2

        They’re kinda handy to have around, when you need one.

    • joe

      With so many in service, meaning one or two are in dock or on limited operation at any one time, it’s a lot easier to just use an actual carrier.

      Besides which, a lot of this is for figuring exactly how carriers work in practice. That’s stuff the USN already knows.

    • jumper

      We do training and flight testing on regular runways that are equipped with catapults and then move to real carrier quals.

      • Bill Thompson

        Jumper I’ve never heard of shore based catapults for carrier quals ! Trainee pilots do “touch and go’s” called FCLPs (Field Carrier Landing Practice) on runways, A “cat” is used for testing new aircraft,but pilots do their carrier quals aboard ship.
        ADCS USN (Ret)

        • CSZ

          I wonder if the catapult on land need to be more powerful (or just longer) since there isn’t a 30 knot head wind…

  • roland

    It must have been the carrier bought from UK and turned into a chinese restaurant.

    • blight

      Kiev and Minsk are something else entirely.

  • Jim

    There appears to be a brick type structure under it. This maybe a roof top landing strip, with a mock helicopter and aircraft. Notice the end on the strip at the stern which has a barrier type wall.

  • USSHelm

    1. Can you launch and aircraft on it?

    2. Does it simulate waves on the ocean?

    • joe

      Dunno. That doesn’t look like a terribly thick roof to land a twin-engine strike aircraft on, assuming those offices are occupied.____Not sure what the plane that’s displayed, but it has moved from the lateral to the overhead picture, so it’s not a ‘static display’: even if it doesn’t fly it must get wheeled around as part of testing operations.____The two things circled either side of the ‘bridge’ seem to link up with the road, so they might actually be functioning lifts.

      Especially interested by the Google Maps view - wonder where the bus stop route runs to?

    • CSZ

      1. No
      2. No

      what this facility does, if eliminating all the impossibles, is to study flight deck management in various combat situations. China has no experience in this area and there’s no book on it either.

      • ronjohn63

        Surely they’ve “borrowed” one from the US Navy…

  • David

    I’d seen the top view before and always figured it was being used for various training programs. Seeing it from the side, however, gives me pause. Why would you do that? What can honestly be gained by making the lower portions as a building? I agree with joe that the roof doesn’t look terribly thick or strong enough to support flight ops with the exception of for helicopters. Zooming out, there’s a good deal of clear area off the ski jump, but there’s no appearance of a catapult or cable anywhere, and the approach end has a lot of buildings pretty close in. More factors that leads me to believe it’s not for flight ops. If it were to be used as a ship simulator for the majority of the crew who operate and maintain the ship, why bother making the building look like the ship, at least to a reasonable level of detail? The systems and maintenance can be trained and simulated in a normal square building as effectively (and cheaper) than going to these lengths. I must ponder this for a while to see if I have an “Ah-Ha!” moment……

    • vern

      There’s also a college and hospital right on the “approach path” less than 1/2 mile “astern.” No one is going to do fixed wing landings on this thing.

  • justsaying

    For christs sake, the damn carrier is not called the Shi Lang. You write as if that’s a fact. The carrier is Tianjian class, and may very well be called the Tianjin.

    • Chimp

      Yes, the Shilang thing is a bit of a media creation, and ignorant to boot. Shi Lang is regarded as a traitor. I doubt we’ll see a USS Benedict Arnold, either.

      • shawn1999

        Considering its a building that just looks like an aircraft carrier when viewed top-down, does it matter? They are probably practicing on it, then when they have a carrier fleet for real, not just what they’ve bought from UK and Russia, they will be able to use it for a real building- talk about dual use and future planning. Think about if our government thought this way (like using politicians for combat to earn their pay for a change when instead of deciding on a budget, they instead stop paying our service members)

  • Ben


  • mandb

    But what a great systems integration and training site all in one!

  • Tex

    The navy uses real aircraft carriers for training or just regular runways. they aren’t too realististic but they can fly. Carriers…. modern battleships…. an real dinosaur and waste of money.

    • jumper

      Compared to what? There isn’t another platform for force projection or forward operating locations that can compare with a CVN that I’m aware of.

      • blight

        The gator navy, but they can’t really do sustained ’round-the-clock airstrikes at the same scale as a carrier group.

        Time to build “mega-carriers”: CVN + LPD?

        Think of the money you could make on redesign alone…!

  • Sarcasmo

    Like it’s carrier, the building is probably for scientific purposes.

  • 78arlprt

    Just a note..the USN does use land runways with catapult systems to practice launchings…ie. July 27 at joint base McGuire-Dix-Lakenheath, the USN launched a
    F-35C using the catapult system.

    • DEWright_CA

      Its Lakehurst, not Lakenheath which is in the UK.

  • Lance

    Is the building for the navy? Looks like a school for new carrier pilot recruits.

  • Hunter78

    The “building” looks like a factory or office building. Camouflage against low altitude attackers (rebels)? If they want to practice carrier operations, they’d want a hangar deck, elevators, etc. Do we have good pictures of the building under construction? I imagine so, although they could have tarped it up pretty good. They’d want offices and sleeping quarters for the training facility, so those windowed spaces could be well-used.

  • Hman

    Oddly enough it has been shown on CCTV (China) who are only now admitting to the people they even have one and is nearly ready for trials.

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Evening Folks,

    It’s an office build with a cleaver roof for satellite imagery. Training carrier pilots on the roof of an building, even for the Chinese that insane. Decorators call that a prop.

    Byron Skinner

    • blight

      Wonder if you can train flight deck crew on that mock carrier. There could be a elevator there behind the superstructure…

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  • section_8

    All fine and good till the first Chinese jet jock mistakes it for a real carrier and tries to land on it.

  • DevilDogDoc1

    Looks like a supply ship just off the Starboard Fantail. Maybe the Chinese are building all their ships on dry land so they wont sink.

  • usman butt

    i think this is only a rumour or fake pic not by google maps because
    the carier looking so zooming but the ground near it is not

  • software engineering

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