Thursday, September 29, 2005
Chinese shipyard workers have been repairing a badly damaged ex-Russian aircraft carrier and have repainted it with the country’s military markings, raising the question once again of whether China is pursuing longer-term plans to field its first carrier, Jane’s Defence Weekly, a popular weekly reporting on military affairs, has said in a report earlier this month.
Varyag In the latest developments, images show that workers at the Chinese Dalian Shipyard have repainted the ex-Russian Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Varyag with the markings and color scheme of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy (PLAN), JDW reported. Additional new photographs show that other work, the specifics of which could not be determined, appears to be continuing and that the condition of the vessel is being improved. JDW believes that PLAN technicians have also conducted thorough studies of the basic structure of the Varyag during the past few years to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the carrier’s structural design. Former PLAN commander General Liu Huaqing stated in his memoirs that China had purchased blueprints for the carrier — a fact that Russian sources confirmed to JDW. Moreover, Gen Huaqing added: “The competent departments of the defense industry employed Russian aircraft carrier designers to come to China and give lectures.” Still, China’s ultimate intentions for the Varyag remain unclear. One possibility is that Beijing intends to eventually have it enter into some level of service. A military strategist from a Chinese military university has commented publicly that the Varyag “would be China’s first aircraft carrier”.