11 August 2011

Xinhua/Global Times: “China’s Carrier Sails into New Era”

China’s Carrier Sails into New Era,” Xinhua, 11 August 2011.

The maiden voyage had long been expected. Preparations for the trial were visible from many points around Dalian and had been regularly photographed and documented online by military enthusiasts.

China officially acknowledged the refurbishing project of the aircraft carrier only last month, saying the vessel will be used as a platform for “research, experiments and training” and would take a long time to become fully operational.

Peng Guangqian, a military strategist, told the Global Times that the test trial is significant for China’s military development, but people should not attach too much significance to it.

“It is a big thing for China’s military, but aircraft carriers are nothing new in the world, and the current one, built mainly for training, will not have a major strategic impact on the global stage,” Peng said.

“China’s ‘starter carrier’ is of very limited military utility, and will primarily serve to confer prestige on a rising great power, help the military master basic procedures, and to project a bit of power,” Reuters quoted Andrew Erickson, an associate professor in the US Naval War College’s Strategic Research Department, as saying.

“The carrier’s maiden voyage appears to be a show cruise conducted close to home to both make the vessel a bit less accessible to prying eyes and also keep it near its home port if any mechanical problems materialize,” Erickson said. …

(Source: Global Times)

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.