Wednesday, June 22, 2011

China’s first aircraft carrier set for sea trial next week

Symbolism and signaling are both behind the decision to take the ‘Varyag’ on its first venture away from port

After years of refurbishing in Dalian, the Soviet-era Varyag will embark on its first sea trial on July 1 to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party — and to send a signal to neighboring states amid rising tensions in the South China Sea. Chinese officials, however, say a number of variables, including bad weather, could force a rescheduling.

As to the official launch of the yet-to-be named carrier (“Shi Lang” is just one of many options, officials claim), we’ll have to wait until Oct. 1, 2012, with a solid year of work remaining to be completed on weapons systems and other devices.

My article, published today in Jane’s Defence Weekly, continues here.

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