China provides video glimpses of its first aircraft carrier

K J M Varma

Beijing, Jan 29 (PTI) China today provided glimpses ofthe country''s first aircraft carrier, an upgraded version of apartially-built vessel purchased from Ukraine in 1998, whichis undergoing sea trials.

People''s Daily, the official organ of the rulingCommunist Party of China, carried a brief video showing theship undergoing sea trials.

The video displayed in its interactive section,Peoples Forum also showed an aircraft landing on it.

China has taken a major step towards commissioning itsfirst aircraft carrier by largely completing the restorationof a derelict ship purchased from Ukraine, a brief report inthe people''s forum of the daily website said.

China has also recently launched its J-20 stealthfighter, putting out reports on its official websites, and itwas subsequently confirmed by President Hu Jintao to thevisiting Defence Secretary Robert Gates this month.

The restoration includes all living and workingcompartments, engines, navigation systems and power-generatingequipment.

Additional work is still needed on the elevator andflight deck, it said, but it was unclear when the restorationwould be completed, it quoted a Hong Kong-based Kanwa AsianDefence magazine as saying.

The US Department of Defence has said it expects theship to be re-launched at any time as a platform for trainingpilots � a major turning point in the military''s wide-rangingmodernisation drive.

China bought the mothballed carrier in 1998 and towedthe engine and rudderless ship to the northeastern port ofDalian for a complete refitting.

Work on its internal systems took about four years,Kanwa said.

The complete restoration was intended to make the shipfully functional and to train technicians who will buildChina''s future homemade carriers, according to the report.

"This has been a gigantic project and is virtually ascomplicated as building a brand-new aircraft carrier," Kanwaquoted an unidentified source with the Dalian region''smilitary industry as saying.

The Varyag is a ski jump-style carrier with adisplacement of about 55,000 tons, much smaller than theJapan-based US carrier George Washington, which has adisplacement of more than 100,000 tons.

China reportedly bought Russian SU-33 carrier-basedfighters and has modified domestic J-11 jets for carrierlandings and takeoffs.

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