Home » Air » China’s Carrier Fighter Fleet

China’s Carrier Fighter Fleet

by John Reed on April 24, 2012

Let’s start this Tuesday off with some photos of China’s entire carrier-based fighter fleet. Yes, this tiny fleet of perhaps four jets are the prototypes for the J-15 fighters that will soon be roaring off the deck of China’s first aircraft carrier, the ex-Soviet Varyag. Keep in mind that the J-15 is basically an updated (improved avionics, sensors and weapons) copy of the late 1980s-vintage Sukhoi Su-33 fighters that fly off the Varyag’s sister ship, the Russian navy’s Admiral Kuznetzov. The Su-33 airframe was specifically developed to fly off the  Kuznetsov and Varyag using the ships’s ski-jump bow ramps to get aloft rather than the steam-driven catapults used on American carriers. Keep in mind that steam catapults allow much heavier but less powerful aircraft (like an E-2 Hawkeye) to take off from carriers than ramps do. Still, given the fact that China’ new carrier fighter is based on a large Russian-long range fighter, the J-15 will likely have a combat radius of around 430 miles.

It’s been reported that Chinese J-15 test pilots have been making take-offs and landings from land-locked mock ups of the Varyag’s flight deck for several years, learning the tricky art of carrier operations long before they put to sea. These pilots will serve as an initial cadre to teach other chinese naval aviators who will further flesh out the intricacies of carrier flight operations when the Varyag starts operating with jets at sea. This will be a fairly tough job since there aren’t many navies in the world who are currently willing to teach the PLAN how to fly off carriers, they’re going to have to learn it solo.

Anyway, back to the pictures, as China Defense Blog points out, when mom’s away, the kids will play.

Click through the jump to see more.

 

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{ 85 comments… read them below or add one }

DGR April 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Learning carrier ops from scratch….. The accident/death rate is going to be large. Even if they have practiced for years on land, nothing is going to prep the pilots for landing at sea. I kinda feel sorry for the deck hands who will have to man the decks during these initial training years. I might hate China, but I wouldnt wish learning flight ops at sea on my worst enemy……..

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Pat April 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm

They will never master/establish carrier flight ops like the USN and our pilots with our planes with our carriers with our flight deck crew… never!

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aubrey April 24, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Why?

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Pat April 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Because we have ops constantly and really good training programs for pilots that no other military has(although others are close). But didn't you sense any sarcasm in the second "never"?

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Hale April 24, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Sarcasm doesn't translate well through text.

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tiger April 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm

You sound like those Yanks talking about Japan Pre 1941.

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jhm April 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm

wonder what happened to their carrier ops (sarcasm)

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Jeff April 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm

And Taliban will NEVER win against our fine fighting men and women, NEVER! We'll be home by Christmas 2002 and NEVER later than that!!

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EJ257 April 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Can’t wait until they start doing flight ops off the ship. Hope we get video as well as photos.

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passingby April 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm

2013 perhaps.

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TMB April 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Does the new carrier have its own name? All I ever hear it called on here is "the ex-Soviet Varyag."

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FormerDirtDart April 24, 2012 at 3:00 pm

It was reported, just about a year ago, to be renamed "Shi Lang." Shi Lang was a Ming admiral who helped the Qing conquer the Kingdom of Tungning in 1681. The Kingdom of Tungning ruled a little island off China's coast, today called Taiwan.

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DGR April 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Interesting, so they name their first carrier after the guy who helped conquer Taiwan? Nope, I dont think they publically stated there intentions or anything……

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passingby April 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm

it was rumored (on Chinese internet sites), then falsely reported on US and western internet sites)

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cozine April 26, 2012 at 9:20 am

The ship won't be named until she is commissioned – so call it "BigMommy" if you like.

But all the speculation about the intend behind the name? Come on, will France call their next CV "William the Conqueror"?

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Hale April 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm

So far, at least from all the Chinese sites that I've read. It's still simply called the Varyag. I think a lot of netizens want it to be named the 'Shi Lang' but I've yet to see anything official about it.

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Thomas L. Nielsen April 25, 2012 at 2:17 am

The Carrier Formerly Known As Varyag? Translated into Chinese, of course….

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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cozine April 26, 2012 at 9:21 am

Simply, “Mom Var".

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JackBlack April 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Vintage 80s your arse Sir:
First flight: 17 August 1987
Introduction: 31 August 1998 (official)

Article is written like the cold war is still on, those pesky Ruskies inventing the aircraft carrier, they are doomed, they know nothing our Kung Fu is betar.
Can you see yourself in the mirror from all the bs.

If china has anything in abundance, it has a population, so out of the vast population trained pilots can be made in vast numbers, planes alike.
So since there is industry, and there is funding, old, ex and current Russian instructors will gladly accept the call to teach for whatever amount of money offered, which China would gladly pay, and during the process educate instructors of their own.
Is it going to take a few years maybe, is it going to work yes most probably.
So rest assured the world will tremble as it trembles now as to what they sold to North Korea, even if it was just a blue print of a truck sent via e-mail, as that much it takes if you are determined.
Do not forget to whom is the entire US in debt at this and in future years to come, and who controls that debt – China.

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FormerDirtDart April 24, 2012 at 3:07 pm

China controls barely a tenth of US debt.

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passingby April 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm

LOL. That's supposed to be source of comfort?? The US is sinking in quick sand precisely because of the world record shattering national debt. You'll get to taste what it's like to be a 3rd world country in less than 10 years.

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Rabbit April 25, 2012 at 1:30 am

"Third World country"? You keep on using that word, but I don't think you have any idea what it means. I'm interested to know what experience you have living in third world countries that qualifies you to make that sort of assertion about the United States.

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Tad April 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm

This is no doubt the trend as it looks right now. What happens when a big economic crash hits China? It is coming. Will there then be an abandoned aircraft carrier and out-of-work naval pilots? Or will a big crash merely strengthen the resolve of the Chinese gov't to increase their ability to project power?

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Jonny April 24, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Look at North Korea, after 1700H there is no light on the streets.
Just imagine 1.6 bln people focusing their mind on the destruction of the all wrongs coming from the West. You'll get the idea, and then the party comes in and says it is their wrongdoing join us in the fight against them.
1 WW, 2nd WW, remember…that is pretty much the same context on how they started.

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Hale April 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Well, China's got three carriers right now. One iss a hotel and the other is the centerpiece of a military amusement park. So I could totally see it becoming a casino or something similar if they decided to get scrap it.

Seriously though, if China's economy crashes, then the world's economy goes along with it. China is some of the biggest buyers of US-made passenger aircraft, agricultural products and much much more.

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STemplar April 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Preach to them, they're the ones trying to bully everyone in the region into accepting their dominance of local sea lanes and resources. Turning their backs on international conventions and forums and wanting to brow beat individual nations into submission. I don't completely buy into the boogeyman Chinese propaganda but neither do I think they are acting in a friendly responsible manner on the international stage.

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passingby April 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm

LOL. what a brainwashed fool and propaganda junkie.

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SamiAM April 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm

right passingby Tibet is all propaganda right?

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passingby April 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm

propaganda plus covert and overt subversive operations by special interests in the US. (funded by US taxpayers without their knowledge or express consent.)

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jhm April 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm

yeah Tibetans who spent hundreds of years independent from china, even warring against many of china's dynasties really need US pushes to want freedom…

Praetorian April 24, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Citation ?? I thought so, Your an Idiot. Oh wait… wait… your going to link something from Youtube that has nothing to do with this thread, or what we are talking about. Lol

STemplar April 25, 2012 at 2:31 am

Pray tell wtf is covert about them trying to bully everyone in the south china sea? They bitch and whine about every US exercise and then don't do a damn thing about the pigs in Pyongyang and how they've treated their people worse than cattle for decades for their own damn self interests. You're the brainwashed trolling fuckin jerk so go soak your goddman head since the people who run this damn site won't just ban you like they should have a long time ago you tool.

blight_ April 24, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Tibet was ancient history, like deposing Mossadegh for the greater good and choosing France over Ho Chi Minh.

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octopusmagnificens April 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Your hostility toward China is not justified. China strengthens peacefully.

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Lance April 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Strange the Chinese went with the Fighter only version of the SU-33. The Russian have dropped all but a handful of SU-33 for newer MiG-29Ks that are multirole fighters. While China could send fighter sweeps from its carrier it lacks strike aircraft. will China buy MiG-29Ks in time who knows. I do like there paint scheme on the painted plane in two of the 5 pics.

More missile fotter for our Eagles, Raptors, and Hornets I say.

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V.A. April 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Back in the '90s, they found that the Flanker platform offered superior carrier performance to the Fulcrum. But modernising the fleet was deemed impractical, so they took the easier route and went with Fulcrums. Development for MiG-29K had already been paid for by India. In the future, the Russians will likely use a navalized PAK FA, a T-50K if you will.

Its unlikely the Chinese will buy MiG-29Ks, seeing as they're developing these Su-33 copies to be fully multirole, like the J-11Bs the PLAAF flies.

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V.A. April 25, 2012 at 5:46 am

The T-50 is no larger than the Flanker: with modifications incorporating folding wings, it would be perfectly viable as a Carrier-launched aircraft. Considering that Russia only intends to start building new aircraft carriers around 2020, they've got plenty of time to work on said modification.

Yes, the Russian Navy will stick with the MiG-29Ks, but that's for the duration of the Admiral Kuznetsov's life. They aren't about to buy any more than necessary. Meanwhile, the Indian Navy ordered MiG-29Ks because it is the only aircraft small enough to operate from a re-engineered Admiral Gorshkov (now the INS Vikramaditya) and their indigenous aircraft carrier, IAC1. For IAC2, India has submitted RFIs to Boeing and Dassault (Rhino and Flanker, respectively), while EF and Saab have asked to be allowed to participate in what is a budding N-MRCA. India had also sent RFIs to Russia for the Su-33, but Sukhoi opted out of the race because of plans to shut down the Su-33 product line entirely.

So, again, MiG-29Ks are a buy of convenience for Russia, a buy of technical necessity for India (who are also recipients of royalties everytime a MiG-29K sale is made), and a non-option for China, with their new Flanker copies.

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chris April 25, 2012 at 11:34 am

You don't really believe the Raptor will ever see combat do you??

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C87 April 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I draw a lot of similarities between modern day China and an early to mid 1930's Germany. It's economy is growing, their rapid re-armament of their armed forces is "peaceful" and "their right as a sovereign nation", and the world is getting weary of their secrecy and disregard for international law (although the US is nowhere near perfect in sense).
I'd bet that in 10-15 years a two pronged assault will be taken, with Chinese forces attempting to seize Taiwan and NK forces invading the south.
Just don't trust them.

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mitko April 25, 2012 at 11:35 am

It's not 1930s Germany, but 1900s Germany or Teddy Roosevelt's USA – rising economic powerhouses flexing their muscles and seeking their new place in the world.

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Scott Lawrence April 25, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I think you are being generous in your time line. If Obama is still in office next year I see China and NK making their move in 4 to 5 years. Tiawan, Vietnam, Phillipines , and Thialnad are next.

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marrs101 April 25, 2012 at 1:02 pm

In 10-15 years China will struggle with possibly turbulent political changes. I don't think the current system will last for lot more than a decade. It has signs already… And democracy is something You learn very slowly, with lots of bad economical decisions. Remember the USSR. The West was the most surprised. And where are the ex-eastern block countries now? I'm Hungarian, so I see the painfully slow and difficult process of change.

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FtD April 26, 2012 at 12:46 am

not at all… Germany in 30s was near broke, umemployment rate sky high, couldn't arm themselves from Treaty of Versailles. China has none of those above and it is now one of richest non oil producing countries in the world… one of perm members of UN security council so how is it similar to Germany?
Taiwan will lean away from US support as majority of their businesses will be dealing with China and by controlling their economic fortune, China can set the tone of how they want Taiwan to deal with US so anything short of invasion and Taiwan must comply with the threat of turning off the money tap. So China doesn't need to fire a single bullet to literally retake Taiwan….

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Kski April 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Yummy targets for our pilots!

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LWP December 31, 2012 at 1:09 am

You talk like though things in this world never change. USA is always dominance, for how long ? The Roman Empire is gone. The Ottoman is gone and so is the British Empire. The US can hang around for a little while longer.
There are 1.3B chinaman around, 15% of them middle class is good enough to overtake the US.

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tee April 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm

It does have a familiar historical ring to it.

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Pat April 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm

I thought this was Defense Tech… Not a racist blog..

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FormerDirtDart April 24, 2012 at 8:47 pm

You can't swing a dead cat, and not clip some racist idiot, in any of the Military.com comment areas

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Matrix3692 April 24, 2012 at 11:43 pm

any suggestions as of where i could find pure military tech enthusiasts sites? cause sometimes i’m getting too tired about this kind of “nationalism” or “patriotism” commends.

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Thomas L. Nielsen April 25, 2012 at 2:14 am

I quite enjoy www (dot) secretprojects (dot) co (dot) uk. You need to register to get full benefit, and although mostly focused on aerospace technology, army and navy tech gets an airing as well. And the moderators come down hard and fast on anyone transgressing against forum rules.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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passingby April 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm
Benjamin April 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm

It will take them at least 20 years to become proficient at operating carriers. The size of the population will not make a difference in how long it takes to master operating carriers because of all the factors it takes to train senior enlisted and senior officers. You can't just train someone to land on a ship and expect the entire ship's crew to be even halfway proficient at operating a carrier

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Riceball April 25, 2012 at 11:43 am

But with a large population it means that they can afford to be more selective because for every person they wash out they'll probably have another 10 waiting in the wings to take their place. Plus it's also like their sports programs, their large population means that, proportionately, they'll have more people who'll have a knack for naval aviation and carrier ops. All they have to do is come up with some basic tests to determine if someone looks like they'd have the talent to become a good carrier pilot or carrier sailor and then simply scour the countryside for kids who pass their tests, take them back to Beijing or wherever and start training them from childhood. Not saying that they would or are currently doing that but they certainly could if they wanted to.

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oli April 24, 2012 at 10:01 pm

First with a large population comes greater responsibility a country lime China has difficulty feeding its population now it has to maintain a fleet of aircrafts. Just like GM capitulated. Secondly there’s a mc Donald’s Kentucky fried chicken dominoes etc all over the world not to mention gm China gm Russia Ipads IBM we supply practically the whole world with arms china has nothing on the US that’s to name a few.

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core April 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Looks like a SU-27 with a new paint job…

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David R Ball April 25, 2012 at 1:11 am

And why would have to learn anything when the British have new software that allows the aircraft to land on it's own…And BTW anything the British have the Chinese own…..read Approach for more info….Or Janes….

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Rohan April 25, 2012 at 2:13 am

Looks like Sukhoi's planes with new type of paint jobs…Yaikesssss….

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Dumb Grunt April 25, 2012 at 3:59 am

That is exactly what they want you to believe. The Chinese are not slope heads and they are not stupid. On the surface, they will appear to be our friends and to cooperate, but that is just a public image for the international community to see. In truth, they are going to do what, when, and how they want. They do not care about any one unless they are useful to them, for as long as they are useful. The Chinese actually see the U.S. as an adversary not an ally. The main reasons to trade with us is purely about money and technology. Their strategy is a Go strategy not a Chess strategy and time is of no consequence, only the goals are important.

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cozine April 26, 2012 at 9:15 am

Uh, that goes for any country who has their own interest to defend, dude.

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Belesari April 25, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Ok to avoid the idiot fools who posted above and save myself from the mind rays of the CIA from their martain bases i wont comment upon China's relationship with its people and……erm minorities.

One thing for those here who dont know this. China doesnt really worry about keeping populations. You see it has a habbit of conquering a area then shipping Han chinese to the area. Hense the area becomes Chinese through lets face it breeding of the populace. Remember Democracy is a tool it has been used by dictators and conquerors to do pretty terrible things.

Que George Bush comment…..

Anyways I think they may be effective at Air-Air roles basicly providing Cap coverage. But because of the limitations of using such a small carrier and and Jump decks they wont be able to carry the strike loads of a US carrier aircraft.

So. What they are in reguards to Chinese vs American Navy senario is a anti access weapon. In the Blue sea…no theses would endure constant attacks from american carrier groups which will be able to send up more aircraft than the Chinese carrier per hr.

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DGR April 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I had heard the name, but wasnt aware of the story behind it. Thanks for sharing.

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Hale April 24, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Isn't our current navy bigger than the next ten biggest navies combined, and isn't our navy the most combat-experienced in the world due to all the conflicts we partake in?

You don't think we could do with a few less ships?

You may have gotten your wish anyways, looks like we're keeping all 11 of our carriers from the looks of the 2013 budget.

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cs4 April 24, 2012 at 10:01 pm

How long do you think the navy can maintain status quo?

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blight_ April 24, 2012 at 11:57 pm

A lot of the fleet is taken up with support vessels. And remember for every vessel at sea, there are two more: one at home and one potentially in transit to replace it on station. You can think of it as requiring 3x as many ships as you would think; or perhaps being in 1/3rd the places we could be; or only being able to sortie 1/3 as much as someone more local who can focus all their local seapower against distant American seapower.

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joe April 25, 2012 at 3:25 am

Technically…no. Whilst I'm no fan of the PRC, in this case they do have an argument: Tibet was a client kingdom of china until the British decided they wanted a foothold in the region and started playing silly buggers and invaded in 1903.

That said, I'm of the opinion that it's the indigenous population who get the say as to what country they're part of (much as with Falklands) – neither Beijing-based officials nor the Dalai Llama get a say as they don't live there. Of course, the problem is getting any sort of plebiscite whose results you can trust…

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passingby April 25, 2012 at 6:28 am

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "freedom" ????? in Tibet before liberation by Chinese troops???

barbaric serfdom == freedom, but equality == enslavement???

You don't have a friggin' clue about the history of Tibet!!!!

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cs4 April 25, 2012 at 4:27 am

You'll go berserk too if a gang uses your backyard for a "live fire exercise". I don't think China acted any differently.

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passingby April 25, 2012 at 6:25 am

LOL. poor peetorian. Too lazy to do read, too lazy to search, too lazy to think, too lazy to learn, too lazy to grow up …

here is a hint, brainwashed fool / idiot !!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9kEwQud4Ek&fe

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Thomas L. Nielsen April 25, 2012 at 7:05 am

"…stop BS'ing, and learn something real for a change".

Pot, meet kettle.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Praetorian April 25, 2012 at 9:16 am

Idiot, by the way you post I can see ” You are ” semi-illiterate. When you start a sentence next time, use a capital letter. I am going to thank you, its been a long time since I have seen the Swedish Chef from the Muppet show.

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passingby April 25, 2012 at 7:36 am

do you question / challenge what's being said in those two clips??? if so, present your case. if not, then you are BS'ing.

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passingby April 25, 2012 at 7:41 am

LOL. is that your citation? Have you ever presented a citation? Would you actually read a citation if presented?? Do you know how to read a citation?

(for illustration of the difference between "your" and "you're") Your post indicates that you're a semi-illiterate idiot.

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Thomas L. Nielsen April 25, 2012 at 7:47 am

Not really, no. I just find it quite funny that someone who has publicly stated that the moon landings were faked, that 9/11 was an inside job and that the Titanic was really the Britannic (or was it the other way around?) tells someone else to "learn something real". It's right up there with the Muppet Show for entertainment value.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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passingby April 25, 2012 at 7:52 am

then you are BS'ing. because (1) you are mixing together totally different issues here, and (2) you are BS'ing / asserting as truth something that you cannot prove (manned moon landings).

you've got a lot to learn, really.

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Thomas L. Nielsen April 25, 2012 at 8:16 am

Please explain how I am "mixing together totally different issues". I take issue with your behaviour, and with the way you state your cases (such as they are….). And this is irrespective of whether the issue being discussed is Tibet, 9/11, Moon landings, etc.

I do indeed have a lot to learn, I admit that.

As for "proving" something that counts as established historical fact: Since photos, physical evidence, mission records etc. obviously are not enough for you, please tell me: What kind of evidence would convince you?

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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DGR April 25, 2012 at 9:05 am

This is rich, next time you tell a guy he has a lot to learn, you might not want to add the bit about the moon landing. Its been proven, photos are here.
http://www.universetoday.com/94790/lunar-satellit

Now back to your regulaly scheduled program.

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Praetorian April 25, 2012 at 9:37 am

Passingby’s quote : 2) you are BS’ing / asserting as truth something that you cannot prove (manned moon landings).

But you can prove ??

You publicly state that the moon landings are fake, but then say to someone else that they cannot prove manned moon landings.

Your an hypocrite and a idiot.

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passingby April 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm

LOL. thanks for the laugh.

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passingby April 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm

LOL. That's so Peetorian!!! When the govt / NASA makes a claim (e.g. having landed Armstrong and others on the moon), it carries the burden of proof. That's actually a pretty daunting task, as the proof has to be flawless. To disprove NASA / govt's case is relatively easy – all we need to do is point out one contradiction. We don't need many. One contradiction is enough, by operation of logic. (This is actually high school math reasoning, but you and your ilk obviously can't handle it.)

How many contradictions have people found so far?? A lot more than one.

Better still our job has been made easier when NASA / US govt sticks to its story and evidence instead of backing off. Why? (make that your homework. due in 3 months.)

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passingby April 26, 2012 at 6:17 am

blah. See my reply to Peetorian below.

Not sure what you mean by "behavior" but as far as argument and reasoning etc are concerned, your question is a joke. I suggest you ask yourself that question and try to answer it honestly. BUT FIRST, you've got to do something about your weak logical / analytic reasoning skills and lack of common sense and common knowledge (the kind needed to analyze 9-11 videos).

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passingby April 26, 2012 at 6:53 am

sure. no problem. you are the boss, PEEtorian. so … how's the swedish chef from the muppet show???

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Thomas L. Nielsen April 26, 2012 at 10:56 am

"Not sure what you mean by "behavior"" – No, you probably don't. Or if I corrected that to ""behaviour", would that help?

"….your question is a joke" – If you refer to my question regarding what evidence would convince you that the manned moon landings actually happened, I'm entirely serious. If you believe that this indicates "weak logical / analytic reasoning skills and lack of common sense and common knowledge" then, to be honest, that will not weigh heavily on my mind.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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passingby April 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm

I have yet to see truly competent, well-argued, insightful, informative writings in any closed, incestuous or heavily censored forums. Members of those forums tend to develop false confidence and blind spots.

In short, closed minds flourish in closed forums. (Their member don't see themselves that way. But when they come out of their little pool and face the big fishes in the sea, they get slapped silly faster than they cry Mama. I'm not talking about real technical knowledge, not mudslinging – though the latter can be a source of fun and relaxation sometimes.)

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passingby April 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm

damn me. edit: last sentence should read: … " I'm talking about real technical knowledge, not mudslinging – though …"

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Thomas L. Nielsen April 26, 2012 at 11:49 pm

To the best of my knowledge, none of the moderators on Secretprojects work for or with the NSA (but we wouldn't know, of course :-) ).

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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