Friday, October 2, 2009

China ahead in warship sprint

China will soon deploy its first aircraft carrier and it will be more advanced than anything India has or plans to get. Varyag – an Admiral Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier — is more advanced than the INS Viraat —vanguard of the Indian navy — and the still to be procured Admiral Gorshkov (INS Vikramaditya).

Sources from the Indian navy say that the Chinese plan to operationalise the Varyag - purchased as junk from Ukraine for 20 million US dollars in 1998. In 2005, the dead ship was docked at the Chinese naval base in Dalian. Since then it has been undergoing sophisticated upgrades, reveal sources in the Indian navy. Hindustan Times has access to photographs of the warship undergoing repairs at a dock in north- eastern China.

A senior officer from the Indian navy, who has been monitoring China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean, said that it will not be surprising to see the Chinese navy induct Varyag much before India procures and commissions Admiral Gorshkov.

He added that the induction of Varyag was certain as the Chinese had built a ski-jump (part of the aircraft carrier used for take off and landing of aircrafts) facility similar to that on the Varyag at it’s Yuanling airfield –— China’s main aviation test facility. The ski-jump is being used as a testing facility for modified Sukhoi-27 aircrafts, which the Varyag may carry.

“If Varyag was not to be inducted, the question of flight testing at a similar facility does not arise,” the officer observed. According to sources, the Chinese have plans to get more aircraft carriers by 2020. Commander-in-chief of the Chinese navy, Wu Shengli’s aim to aggressively pursue indigenously built aircraft carriers has been a cause of worry for India. Of the two other aircraft carriers being built by China, one is expected be inducted by 2015, added sources.


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