China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy has taken delivery of its first aircraft carrier, Varyag, at Dalian naval shipyard in northern China, following the completion of a refit programme.
The 300m-long Varyag destroyer will be used in future in the disputed waters of South China Sea, amid rising maritime tensions in the Asia-Pacific region and will also conduct a certain level of operations at sea.
China’s PLA Navy has plans to use the aircraft carrier as a research and training platform and is expected to operate Shenyang J-15 aircraft, J-10 carrier based aircraft, Kamov Z-8/Ka-31 AEW helicopters and Ka-27 ASW helicopters from it.
Originally built for the Soviet Navy, the ski jump-style 37m-wide Varyag carrier has a displacement capacity of 55,000t, around half that of the Japan-based US carrier George Washington.
The Admiral Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier is an upgraded version of a partially built vessel purchased from Ukraine in 1998.
It has undergone several trials since August 2011 and successfully validated its capabilities.
Armed with the Flying Leopard 3000 naval (FL-3000N) missile system and Type 1030 close-in weapon system (CIWS), the aircraft carrier’s anti-submarine warfare (ASW) is supported by ASW rocket launchers.
Equipped with 3D air/surface search radar, four multifunctional active phased array radar (APAR) panels, Varyag features decoy/chaff (24-tube) launchers for countermeasures against hostile threats.
Capable of carrying some 50 warplanes, including helicopters and fixed wing aircraft from its flight deck, Varyag is also equipped with an electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS).
Image: China purchased the former Soviet carrier, Varyag, from Ukraine in 1998. Photo: courtesy of N328KF.