China builds aircraft carrier for defense

08:55, July 28, 2011      

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The undated photo shows the imported aircraft carrier body is refitted. China's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that the country is making use of an imported aircraft carrier body for refitting to be used for scientific research, experiment and training. (Xinhua)

China's Defense Ministry Wednesday confirmed that the country is refitting an imported aircraft carrier that will be used for technological research, experiments and military training, a spokesman said at a news conference in Beijing.

Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng said that the warship has been docked at sea, but the time for its first sea trial voyage will depend on the refitting schedule. He did not name the vessel, but the Varyag, which was purchased from Ukraine in 1998, had been repeatedly reported by domestic and foreign press as being rewired and refurbished.

The craft was originally built by the former Soviet Union, which failed to complete the ship's construction before its breakup in 1991. Ukraine disarmed it and removed its engines before selling it to China.

The warship is due to receive a few final adjustments at a shipyard in the port city of Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning Province before embarking on its maiden voyage.


The undated photo shows the imported aircraft carrier body is refitted. China's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that the country is making use of an imported aircraft carrier body for refitting to be used for scientific research, experiment and training. (Xinhua)

Video footage and pictures from China's CCTV and the Xinhua news agency showed three giant cranes and groups of engineers working on the carrier's deck. The ship's hull has been repainted the navy gray shade used by the People's Liberation Army (PLA)

Geng said the pursuit of an aircraft carrier program would not change Chinese navy's inshore defense strategy."We have a long coastline and vast waters under our jurisdiction, and guaranteeing maritime security and safeguarding maritime sovereignty and rights and interests is the sacred duty of China's armed forces."

"Building an aircraft carrier is extremely complex and at present we are using a scrapped aircraft carrier platform to carry out refurbishment for the purposes of technological research, experiments and training," Geng said at the news conference.

The public acknowledgement of working on China's first navy carrier immediately drew attention of foreign press.

The Associated Press (AP) said in a report Wednesday that China officially acknowledged "it is rebuilding an aircraft carrier bought more than a decade ago, but says the refurbished ship will be used only for research and training — a strong indication it plans to build carriers of its own".

"Geng Yansheng's comments appeared to indicate China has no plans to deploy the restored carrier as part of a battle-group, but will use it instead as a blueprint for indigenous flattops".

The AP report quoted unnamed defense experts saying "up to four carriers are planned in all, with preparations under way at a Shanghai shipyard".


The undated photo shows the imported aircraft carrier body is refitted. China's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that the country is making use of an imported aircraft carrier body for refitting to be used for scientific research, experiment and training. (Xinhua)

The report also said that "China has been working on a carrier-based fighter derived from the Russian Su-33, dubbed the J-15, and is planning to use its JL-9 jet trainer to bring pilots up to speed for carrier landings and take-offs".

It said that activity aboard the ship has picked up in recent weeks, with photos on military enthusiast websites showing workers removing heavy equipment from its sloped flight deck. However, crucial equipment such as high frequency antennae and arresting cables have yet to be installed and final stability tests must be conducted before it heads out to sea.

Once the refitting is complete, China will become the last of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to own a carrier.

Military officials remain tight-lipped about the project, but Chinese military experts have provided a more detailed picture of the ship and its capabilities.

The Shanghai Daily reported on its front page Thursday that quoted Cao Weidong, a researcher with the PLA Navy's Academic Research Institute, as saying the vessel was a conventionally powered medium-sized carrier that will be equipped with Chinese engines, aircraft, radar and other hardware. Fixed-wing aircraft on the carrier will use a ski-jump to take off, instead of a catapult system, Cao said.

"We will stick to our defensive policy and simply having this platform or any number of carriers won't change that. Conflicts should be resolved peacefully," Academy of Military Science researcher Du Wenlong said.

Source: People's Daily Online
http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2011-07/28/nw.D110000renmrb_20110728_6-01.htm
 
 
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