Navy role for China's carrier later this year
By Yang Jian (Shanghai Daily)
China's refitted aircraft carrier will begin serving in the navy officially this year, seniormilitary officials said yesterday.
Fighter jets will soon be involved in sea trials that have been running smoothly so far,Xu Hongmeng, deputy commander of Chinese navy, said.
"The military authority plans to let the aircraft carrier be commissioned this year," Xusaid in Beijing.
A Ministry of Defense spokesman said previously that the carrier would be used mainlyfor scientific research and training pilots for future carriers.
Military experts believe the carrier will be commissioned on August 1, China's ArmyDay, and will serve in the South China Sea. It has yet to be named.
Photographs posted online have shown aircraft and helicopters landing on the deck ofthe carrier in the port of Dalian in northeast China.
Chinese J-15 fighters, which military experts regard as the most ideal aircraft for thecarrier, took part in short-distance take-off and landing exercises late last year, theBeijing-based Legal Evening News said yesterday.
The vessel will have fighting capability only after fighters can land and take off from thecarrier, said carrier expert Zhang Yao, senior researcher at the Shanghai Institutes forInternational Studies.
The carrier has taken part in four sea trials in the Yellow Sea since its first one lastAugust.
The vessel will be capable of carrying around 30 fighters and helicopters and carry acrew of around 2,000.
The Admiral Kuznetsov class aircraft carrier was bought from Ukraine in 1998 as anempty shell and has been refitted for its role as a research and training platform. Allweapons and radar systems and other equipment on board were made in China.
China still has a long way to go to have its home-produced aircraft carriers, because itneeds to adapt to new development trends in development, Xu Xiaoyan, a People'sLibration Army lieutenant general, said yesterday. "China will need at least threeaircraft carriers," Xu said.
Major General Luo Yuan, a researcher with the PLA's Military Science Academy, said: "It is fully possible for China to build more aircraft carriers based on the country'seconomic power."