Two big news items today, one about China's new aircraft carrier, the other about India's.
more or less, confirmed its carrier programme. Although the former USSR carrier Varyag is clearly visible in Dalian - apparently a
great view is available from the bedroom section of Ikea - the country has
never officially acknowledged the ship, though it has been crawling with
workers for years. What's more, the ship has a new phased array radar and
bristles with other antennas.
The Chinese language Hong Kong Commercial Daily quotes a senior Chinese officer, chief of the general
staff Chen Bingde, confirming (finally) the programme's existence. He added that
the ship is not ready - as China's
internet community already knows.
Chen noted that the carrier is not for offensive purposes, but
serves a defensive role given the pressures China
faces on its various ocean frontiers in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea. Apparently the other countries that
share these seas need not feel pressured by China's
rhetoric ('we own the South China Sea') and
major military build up. It is widely reported, incidentally, that the new
carrier will bear the name Shi Lang, a Chinese admiral who conquered Taiwan in the
Above is a clip about the Admiral Kuznetsov, the Varyag's sister in operation with the Russian navy. Apparently the Chinese have removed the SS-N-19 Granit anti-ship missiles carried in vertical tubes beneath the flight deck. If you can get through the Russian guys talking, it gives a fairly graphic depiction of the ship's missile and self-defence systems.
Meanwhile India Today reports that the INS Vikramaditya (pictured below) will sail to India
early next year. This is consistent with recent comments to Flightglobal by the Indian Navy,
which has just received five new RSK-MiG 29 K/KUBs, that the new ship will be
in service in 18 months. It has been a long, long road. The carrier programme
has been plagued by spats over costs and delayed work.
Both countries have long term plans beyond the Vikramaditya and
Shi Lang. India plans two indigenous carriers equipped with catapults - the
Vikramaditya will launch aircraft via ski jump. The catapults on the two new ips, which are expected to be in service by 2020, will enable heavier takeoff
weights, as well as the deployment of airborne early warning & control
(AEW&C) aircraft. The Indian navy has approached Northrop Grumman for more information about
the E-2D Hawkeye.
plans are less clear. The Shi Lang is widely expected to be used mainly as a
training carrier. China
is a newcomer to naval aviation and faces a long learning curve in deploying
this capability. How many carriers she plans and their configuration is anybody's