China’s First Aircraft Carrier Completes Maiden Sea Trial
Ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun said at a press conference in Beijing that the carrier, which departed on August 10, had “attained the anticipated objectives” and returned to a shipyard for further refurbishing and testing.
A former Soviet aircraft carrier named Varyag, it has been completely refitted for its new role as a platform for research and pilot naval training at the Dalian shipyard in Northeast China’s Liaoning Province.
According to the Ria Novosti news agency, the Admiral Kuznetsov class aircraft carrier was 70 percent complete when China bought it from Ukraine for $20 million in 1998. Before being sold, the ship was disarmed and its engines were removed.
China started an overhaul of the vessel in 2005, along with the development of carrier-based aircraft. The 305 meter (1,000 feet) vessel is designed to carry 26 aircraft and 24 helicopters, reports said.
On July 27, the Defense Ministry first confirmed China’s aircraft carrier program, stressing that the carrier was intended solely for “scientific research, experiments and training.” The Ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday that the country’s defense policy and strategies would not change despite the development of advanced weaponry.
Currently, there are a total of 21 active-service aircraft carriers worldwide. Once the vessel is delivered to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, China will be the last among the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to possess an aircraft carrier.