On September 25th, Ottawa Citizen reporter David Pugliese blogged about the delivery, amid much fanfare, of China’s first ever aircraft carrier. Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, gave a few of the details of the new purchase:
The carrier, formerly known as the Soviet ship Varyag, was renamed Liaoning and underwent years of refitting efforts to install engines, weapons, as well as a year-long sea trial.
The ceremony made China the tenth country around the world and the last among the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to have an aircraft carrier in active service.
Although the Chinese government was eager to show off their new acquisition, the aircraft will be used primarily for training purposes in the foreseeable future (Jane Perlez, “China Shows Off an Aircraft Carrier, but Experts Doubt its Worth“, New York Times, 25 September 2012). China has yet to build its own carrier, and a major purpose of this purchase was to enhance the prestige of the Chinese armed forces, which do not yet possess any planes capable of landing on the vessel.
Meanwhile the U.S. Navy, which has quite the collection of aircraft carriers itself, has sent two of them loaded with 80 warplanes each to the East Pacific in response to the rise in tensions between China and Japan over competing claims to sovereignty over the East China Sea islands. (Kirk Spitzer, “Big U.S. Fleet Nears Disputed Islands, But What For?“, TIME Magazine, 30 September 2012).
Photo Source: U.S. Navy