While China has been hard at work with its missile technology, their achievements in the field of Dongs hasn’t carried over to naval technology. China has spent decades trying to develop a navy, and the country has five homebrew aircraft carriers in development. However, the Chinese Navy won’t have to wait for them to be finished to launch a new ship. China launched its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, to great fanfare yesterday. The ship has been in testing since August 2011. For comparison’s sake, China was the only permanent member of the UN Security Council without an aircraft carrier; the United States maintains 11 such ships and Britain has so many they’re selling extras.
“It has important significance in effectively safeguarding national sovereignty, security, and development benefits, and advancing world peace and common development,” said a statement from the Defense Ministry.
The Liaoning started life as the Soviet navy’s aircraft carrier Varyag. The ship was towed sans engines from Ukraine to China in 1998, and the Chinese spent the intervening years completely refurbishing, refitting, and outfitting the carrier into something more fitting China’s grand ambitions. The ship will eventually carry a special carrier-based bomber, the J-15 (based off Russia’s Sukhoi Su-33) and a stealth fighter, the J-31 (currently a prototype).
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