China Could Field its First Carrier in 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!

Here’s one more example of new China’s fast modernizing military tech. Smoke coming from the stack of ex-Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag (now the Shi Lang) that’s being rapidly converted into what’s assumed to be China’s first operational carrier. The ship’s come a long way in the last 10 years.

Just last week, Reuters reported that the PLAAN was planning (oh, stupid pun!) to launch the ship in 2011; a full year ahead of U.S. intelligence estimates.

China may be ready to launch its first aircraft carrier in 2011, Chinese military and political sources said on Thursday, a year ahead of U.S. military analysts’ expectations.

Analysts expect China to use its first operational aircraft carrier to ensure the security of its oil supply route through the Indian Ocean and near the disputed Spratly Islands, but full capability is still some years away.

“The period around July 1 next year to celebrate the (Chinese Communist) Party’s birthday is one window (for launch),” one source with ties to the leadership told Reuters, requesting anonymity because the carrier programme is one of China’s most closely guarded secrets.

The Defense Ministry spokesman’s office declined to comment.

The possible launch next year of the ex-Soviet aircraft carrier ‘Varyag’ for training, and testing technology, will be one step toward building an operating aircraft carrier group, analysts said.

The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence estimates the Varyag will be launched as a training platform by 2012, and China will have an operational domestically built carrier after 2015.

Yes, this is a relatively old ship and it takes years to master the art of effective carrier ops. Still, China is making serious gains in its military technology and we shouldn’t underestimate its learning curve as The Heritage Foundation’s Dean Cheng points out over at sister site, DoDBuzz.

Here are some more pics of the smoking ship.

  • slntax

    we are repeating the mistakes of history if we do not take this seriously. in the 1930’s churchill saw the rapid expanse of the luftwaffe, yet the world ignored his warnings. they said that the German economy was too integrated with the rest of Europe to start war, appeasers make excuse after excuse. we must remember that capabilities are a signal of intentions.

  • Clifford

    Those Chinese will bang these ships out at a rate of 10 ships or so a year right up until 2030, just you wait America, they will have a 1000 ship navy by 2025!

    • kim

      1000 ships indeed. So true. Anyone who’s seen ‘2012’ will know what they are capable of.

      • crackedlenses

        You can’t believe most of what you see in movies…..

        • kim

          Irony missed.

  • Belesari

    If they do it right they could have move CVBG by 2030 to 2040 than we do. Hopefully by this time we wont have anymore LCS (POS) or Zummwalt (bigger POS) left to lose lives and money on.

    • 0pilot

      awesome, we can do dual carrier ops with the Chinese. Sounds great.

  • 0pilot

    I’m the sure the U.S. will not mind lending a hand to the Chinese with training and bilateral cooperation.

    • crackedlenses

      Like the same way we should have “helped” the Soviet Union. Give me a break…..

    • PhilaMike

      Clinton and Democrat politicians have already done that. China could not get one rocket off the ground until a US businessman bribed Clinton with tons of “Campaign” Cash to be able to sell our rocket and guidance technology and restricted Super Computers to China, our future Enemy. Buried UNDER THE RUG..Thank you MSM………..

  • Olternaut

    Wait, China doesn’t even have a carrier fleet? If world war 3 ever hits and a non nuclear naval battle breaks out then China’s navy would be done.

    • Any Mouse

      Yup. And that’s sure to happen. A non-nuclear World War 3…

  • John

    oh look they are getting a carrier, well an old russian one and we have how many carrier groups at the moment? 10?

  • blight

    I won’t deny that the carrier has been useful for the half-century we’ve dominated the carrier force-but it’s hard to say when the carrier may go the way of the battleship. Carriers deploying <100 aircraft take up several thousand crew per unit and to deliver sustained bombardment of their targets requires these large targets to park within range of cruise missiles or far out at sea to evade enemy SSK's/SSN's, missile boats and target acquisition for aforementioned missiles.

    I suspect the PLAN will invest in carrier capability because they are invaluable if you have to soften up a target unable to hit you back; but their first strike will have to be something more robust. SLCMs and following the USN's lead in SSGN-land seems a more expeditious investment than a large carrier fleet. The PLAN will need carrier-trained sailors and commanders eventually, so this small effort is to develop that small seed of capability, not unlike the Langley's role in early carrier doctrine.

  • David Walker

    I have nothing GOOD to say about this ! We the people have been unable to agree long enough on anything that benifits the American people and the world. Our government is only interested in filling their pockets and emptying ours . We have passed the point of no return . And we have the best government going .

  • Baloshka

    The good news is that ammo is cheap nowadays. Stock up now and avoid the rush.

  • Carl

    As others I not agree with the idea of allow China to develop their military. But at the same time is stupid trying to stop China or any other Nation when we, The United States are the first who develop new weapons every year…. But yes, I do agree with protect our country with one condition…. Our guns are to protect us from any attack not to go out there and attack others just because they have something that we want. Our world needs something better… We need Peace.

  • Stanley

    In the UK are selling stuff to china like mad,they can’t get enough..of anything we got.
    The EU stop China from exporting as much as they like,they have to “Assemble” items in a EU country & go into deals with locals to get past them.Its not ideal but it gives Philips,Grundig,Siemmens,Decca,Amstrad and the few left a chance.
    When I go to US..its just Wallmart,selling CHINA INC…..Dammm!
    How many domestic manufactured electronic goods are there?

    PS.We’ll prob’ly sell them that carrier too. :)

  • Paul Sturm

    China finally making good use of the former Soviet carrier Varyag just goes to prove what the Chinese have mastered in technique over the last few years. They are a new world power to reckon with and rightfully so. If they really are to use this power to make the sealanes in the Strait of Malacca safe (from piracy) then they put their hardware to more good use than any other carrier operating navy has done so far. If India is entitled to operate a number of carriers in the coming years, then why not the People’s Republic? The balance of power? The days that Britain ruled the waves are long gone and her navy is shedding its carriers accordingly. New countries rise to power and that is demonstrated by their will to operate carriers to increase their influence in the world.

  • Jerry Sebastian

    China is power hungry (Oil & other sources of energy), then there’s Spratly’s islands. Guess what’s the carriers for then….. not to mention the EFV they been producing.

  • supply chain

    Chinese suppliers is energy starving (Oil & other resources of energy), then there’s Spratly’s isles. Think what’s the providers for then….. in addition to the EFV they been generating.