Aircraft carrier to begin service this year in China

Source: China Daily

Weaponry developing in line with rising defense needs, say analysts

China plans to put its first aircraft carrier into service later this year, a top navy official said.

Xu Hongmeng, deputy commander of the Navy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, told the People’s Daily on Sunday the PLA “has a plan” to put it into service this year. The carrier has undergone four sea trials since last year.

According to media reports, the former Varyag, which is docked in Dalian Port, in Northeast China’s Liaoning province, is currently equipped with life-size model planes.

China’s first aircraft carrier, a retrofitted former Soviet vessel, set out on its maiden voyage on Aug 10 and returned to port five days later. It underwent three more sea trials in the Pacific.

Rear Admiral Cao Dongshen, a deputy at the 11th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, told China Daily on Monday that the refitted aircraft carrier will not be deployed as part of a single fixed fleet, but will keep traveling.

The carrier will be used mainly for experiments, training and scientific research, Cao said on the sidelines of the annual national legislature session.

Cao brushed aside a report that China is building overseas naval bases, because the country has a near-shore defense policy.

Wang Dengping, the political commissar of the Navy’s North China Sea Fleet, told the media on Sunday that possessing an aircraft carrier will not change China’s defense policy.

China has 3 million square kilometers of sea area yet only one aircraft carrier, which is mainly committed to scientific research and training. Our near-shore defense policy will not be changed, Wang said.

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