A Little Perspective

In the comments, So? mentions the successful Chinese landing of a J-15 jet on its new aircraft carrier as evidence of China rising.

It is an advance for China, definitely. But a baby step when you consider the complexity of carrier operations, especially at a true operational tempo, with 120 sorties (takeoffs and landing) per 12 hour flight day, sometimes surging to 190 per day. The ballet of the deck is an amazing-and amazingly dangerous-thing. Especially when you start doing it with live ammunition hanging from wings and waiting on deck, and especially especially when you do it day after day and crews become fatigued.

The US Navy has been doing this for close to a century. The accumulated experience and knowledge will take the Chinese a generation to match. (Only four navies-the US, Japan, the UK, and France have operated carriers in a serious way.)

And by the time China catches up with that, the US will have moved on. It is already moving on. For on virtually the same day China landed a manned jet on a carrier, the US loaded an X-47B Unmanned Aerial Vehicle onto the USS Harry Truman for flight testing:

So while China takes its first steps into the 20th century doing what the US (and the UK) first did in 1945-land a manned combat jet on a CV-the US is moving into the 21st by testing unmanned combat jet on a CV.

So who is really making history? And is a gap closing, or opening?

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About Craig Pirrong 238 Articles

Affiliation: University of Houston

Dr Pirrong is Professor of Finance, and Energy Markets Director for the Global Energy Management Institute at the Bauer College of Business of the University of Houston. He was previously Watson Family Professor of Commodity and Financial Risk Management at Oklahoma State University, and a faculty member at the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and Washington University.

Professor Pirrong's research focuses on the organization of financial exchanges, derivatives clearing, competition between exchanges, commodity markets, derivatives market manipulation, the relation between market fundamentals and commodity price dynamics, and the implications of this relation for the pricing of commodity derivatives. He has published 30 articles in professional publications, is the author of three books, and has consulted widely, primarily on commodity and market manipulation-related issues.

He holds a Ph.D. in business economics from the University of Chicago.

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