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Aero India 2023

China provides a glimpse into its first aircraft carrier

Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag. Currently the ship is being examined and repaired by China.

BEIJING (PTI): China Saturday provided glimpses of the country's first aircraft carrier, an upgraded version of a partially-built vessel purchased from Ukraine in 1998, which is undergoing sea trials.

People's Daily, the official organ of the ruling Communist Party of China, carried a brief video showing the ship undergoing sea trials.

The video displayed in its interactive section, Peoples Forum also showed an aircraft landing on it.

China has taken a major step towards commissioning its first aircraft carrier by largely completing the restoration of a derelict ship purchased from Ukraine, a brief report in the people's forum of the daily website said.

China has also recently launched its J-20 stealth fighter, putting out reports on its official websites, and it was subsequently confirmed by President Hu Jintao to the visiting Defence Secretary Robert Gates this month.

The restoration includes all living and working compartments, engines, navigation systems and power-generating equipment.

Additional work is still needed on the elevator and flight deck, it said, but it was unclear when the restoration would be completed, it quoted a Hong Kong-based Kanwa Asian Defence magazine as saying.

The US Department of Defence has said it expects the ship to be re-launched at any time as a platform for training pilots, a major turning point in the military's wide-ranging modernisation drive.

China bought the mothballed carrier in 1998 and towed the engine and rudderless ship to the northeastern port of Dalian for a complete refitting.

Work on its internal systems took about four years, Kanwa said.

The complete restoration was intended to make the ship fully functional and to train technicians who will build China's future homemade carriers, according to the report.

"This has been a gigantic project and is virtually as complicated as building a brand-new aircraft carrier," Kanwa quoted an unidentified source with the Dalian region's military industry as saying.

The Varyag is a ski jump-style carrier with a displacement of about 55,000 tons, much smaller than the Japan-based US carrier George Washington, which has a displacement of more than 100,000 tons.

China reportedly bought Russian SU-33 carrier-based fighters and has modified domestic J-11 jets for carrier landings and takeoffs.

China is expected to go for several carriers in the future.

This will be China's first aircraft carrier.

Chinese defence officials say that China purposely avoided having aircraft carriers earlier as focussed more on its submarine fleet.

Its acquisition of an aircraft carrier puts its navy on an all together different footing, flexing muscles with the US fleet in South China Sea and the Indian navy in the Indian ocean, analysts say.


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