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China rebuilds aircraft carrier 'Varyag'

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CNTV, July 28, 2011
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China is now rebuilding a former Soviet-era aircraft carrier---known as the Varyag. The 300 meter carrier is now stationed in the northeastern port of Dalian and is expected to begin testing at sea soon. Pilots are already undergoing training in the operation of specialized planes for launch from the carrier. This information was released by the Ministry of National Defense on Wednesday.

The long held secret is being officially unveiled. China is to have its first aircraft carrier.

Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng, Spokesman of Ministry of National Defense said "Taking into accounts all elements, authorities in China are seriously looking into the development of an aircraft carrier. To build a carrier is a complicated process. Currently we are refurbishing an old aircraft carrier for research and training purposes."

The carrier was constructed in the 1980s for the Soviet navy but was never completed. China bought the Varyag in 1988 and began rebuilding it in 2005. The process, was a complicated one.

Senior Colonel Du Wenlong says the second-hand carrier has provided a crucial reference for China's own research and development into large scale ship building.

Senior Colonel Du Wenlong, Researcher of PLA Academy of Military Sciences said "In the past, China's ship borne air force has mainly composed of helicopters. It has limitations in both training and operations. With the aircraft carrier, fixed-wing aircraft, especially advanced fighters could be onboard, this will provide a wider platform for air operations."

Du Wenlong showed us pictures of China's first aircraft carrier. It's been equipped with landing and take off decks, a radar system, artillery, as well as an anti-ballistic missile system among other features. He believed that the carrier could hold dozens of advanced aircraft and match the basic functions of the carriers of other nations.

Senior Colonel Du Wenlong said "China is a country with a long coast line and territorial waters. With its economic development, China needs to protect its interests overseas. This requires increasing its naval capabilities in the deep sea."

For the past decade, China has been upgrading its naval capabilities. Many believe, given the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, the aircraft carrier seems to fit neatly into its strategy of protecting its territory.

General Chen Bingde, Chief of The General Staff, PLA said "China is a big country, but only has a number of small ships, this is not commensurate with the current status."

Meanwhile, China stresses that the aircraft carrier is for peaceful purposes only.

Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng, Spokesman of Ministry of National Defense said "China sticks to a defensive policy, it will never change for what kinds of weapons we have. Nor will China change its naval strategy of offshore defense."

The completion of the rebuilding of the Varyag fulfills China's decades-long dream of owning an aircraft carrier. Experts believe such a development will help China increase its naval operational capabilities, and produce home-made aircraft carriers in the future. It may also lead to a shift in the maritime balance of power in the region.

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