11 August 2011

Galrahn, Information Dissemination: “Ex-Varyag Begins Sea Trials”

Galrahn,Ex-Varyag Begins Sea Trials,” Information Dissemination, 10 August 2011.

Early this morning the Ex-Varyag was assisted by several tug boats as the ship ventured out on sea trials. …

Today China has taken the next step in what is a very long road towards the operation of an aircraft carrier. This specific step is both strategic and symbolic. On one hand the sea trials of the ex-Varyag marks another domestic political benchmark intended to provide evidence to the Chinese people of the ongoing ascension of Chinese power, another step on the stairway of progress and achievement. On the other hand this is a strategic step communicating to the world that the PLA Navy presence on the global oceans is an inevitable conclusion. …

…I find myself observing the sea trials of the ex-Varyag as little more than one more minor achievement in what will be a long road for Chinese seapower; a largely insignificant event that will be one of many firsts during the development of aircraft carrier capabilities by China. With that said, and despite this being little more than an insignificant event from a big picture perspective, the sea trials for ex-Varyag is also an enormous symbolic benchmark that truly does reflect the ascension of China juxtaposed against the decline of America. …

For a different kind of analysis of ex-Varyag, I encourage people to read Andrew Erickson’s post on this topic. …

For the latest on the ex-Varyag’s sea trials, see Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, “China Realizes Carrier Dream,” The Diplomat, 10 August 2011.

For the longer analysis on which that post is based, see Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson, “China’s ‘Starter Carrier’ Goes to Sea,” China SignPost™ (洞察中国), No. 43 (9 August 2011).

For an assessment of the larger implications of China’s deck aviation development, see 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.

For operational aspects of China’s first carrier-capable aircraft, 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), No. 38 (7 June 2011).

For 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), No. 35 (18 May 2011).

For relevant defense industrial factors, see 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), No. 12 (18 December 2010).

For an early assessment of Chinese aircraft carrier options, see Andrew S. Erickson and Andrew R. Wilson, “China’s Aircraft Carrier Dilemma,” Naval War College Review, 59. 4 (Autumn 2006): 13-45.