Meanwhile, in Dalian

varyagmar272.jpgThe cover of this week’s Flight International is not of anaircraft, but of a ship, the Nimitz class carrier USS Harry Truman. Naturallythere are plenty of aircraft visible: F-18s, E-2Cs, and the odd EA-6B.

The issue marks a century of naval aviation, for which my colleagueStephen Trimble wrote two features about the history of the carrier, arguablythe most important warship type of the twentieth century.

Though much is made of China’s supposed ‘carrier-killer’programmes – the DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile, the J-20 (is it designed tolob missiles at American carriers?), and its attack submarines – the PLAN seemsto be making good headway with the Shi Lang, formerly the Russian aircraftcarrier Varyag.

In this morning’s troll through the region’s defence sites Icame across some recent shots of the ship. Most of the scaffolding around theisland is gone, the ship boasts a fresh coat of paint, and various antennas(some covered in plastic) have been mounted. The deck crawls with workers.

Sadly there have been no appearances of the J-15 (China‘s Su-33 knock off) lately, but perhaps we’llsee something soon, for things seem to be moving along nicely in Dalian

Few pundits doubt China’s ambitions in regard to aircraft carriers. Over the last 100 years the triumphs and tribulations of naval aviation in the west have been of great interest to our readers. Naval aviation developments in the east are bound to be equally captivating over the next century.

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