UPDATE: For the latest Chinese sources regarding the exact current status of China’s 1st Aircraft Carrier, see Andrew S. Erickson, “Global Times: PLA National Defense University Professor States China’s First Aircraft Carrier Not Yet Delivered to Navy; Flag-Raising Ceremony Only a Rehearsal,” China Analysis from Original Sources, 24 September 2012.
Today (23 September 2012) at 4 p.m. in Dalian, People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Commander Wu Shengli presided over a ceremony in which China’s first aircraft carrier was officially handed over to his service. This important landmark in Chinese naval development is attracting widespread attention at home and abroad. It officially ends China’s status as the last permanent member of the UN Security Council not to have an aircraft carrier–a milestone long awaited by Chinese officials, media sources, and bloggers alike. While PLAN acceptance of this “starter carrier” is the first step in a long journey, it is a journey that will take place in full view of the world, and one that will ultimately take Beijing to a new place as a great sea power.
For relevant Chinese-language sources, see:
For further background on Chinese aircraft carrier development, see also:
Explanation of naming in Andrew S. Erickson, “China Will Name its First Aircraft Carrier ex-Varyag “Liaoning”: PRC State Media Portal,” China Analysis from Original Sources, 10 September 2012.
Overall analysis offered in Andrew S. Erickson, Abraham M. Denmark, and Gabriel Collins, “Beijing’s ‘Starter Carrier’ and Future Steps: Alternatives and Implications,” Naval War College Review 65.1 (Winter 2012): 14-54.
Coverage of the ex-Varyag’s sea trials offered in Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, “China Realizes Carrier Dream,” The Diplomat, 10 August 2011.
The longer report on which that post is based is Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson, “China’s ‘Starter Carrier’ Goes to Sea,” China SignPost™ (洞察中国) 43 (9 August 2011).
An early assessment of the larger implications of China’s deck aviation development offered in Abraham M. Denmark, Andrew S. Erickson, and Gabriel Collins, “Should We Be Afraid of China’s New Aircraft Carrier? Not yet.,” Foreign Policy, 27 June 2011.
Relevant defense industrial factors discussed in Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson, “LNG Carriers to Aircraft Carriers? Assessing the potential for crossover between civilian and military shipbuilding in China,” China SignPost™ (洞察中国) 12 (18 December 2010).
For analysis on aircraft that may eventually fly off China’s aircraft carrier, see Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson, “‘Flying Shark’ Gaining Altitude: How might new J-15 strike fighter improve China’s maritime air warfare ability?,” China SignPost™ (洞察中国) 38 (8 June 2011).
For related analysis on drivers and constraints concerning Chinese deck aviation, see Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson, “The ‘Flying Shark’ Prepares to Roam the Seas: Strategic pros and cons of China’s aircraft carrier program,” China SignPost™(洞察中国) 35 (18 May 2011).