China's New Aircraft Carrier: The Liaoning
Bought from the Russians back in the 1990's, China's first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, debuts for operational trials in Chinese territorial waters. When purchased, the Chinese signed the contract which clearly stated that the gutted, non-functional, unfinished, carrier would not be used for military purposes but civilian, commercial purposes- like a casino, which WAS the original plan. Just getting the ship to China was one for movies for it had no engines, no nothing and had to be towed from the Black sea through the Turkish Straits, which Turkey demanded one million dollars in passage fees. Towing the huge hull took many years!
That was then, now, it has been studied in depth (the Chinese bought it to learn how to build their own carriers), installed engines, electronics etc. It still lacks aircraft, however. As of now, the ship is operational but harmless as a kitten, yet, it represents the future of the Chinese Navy coming of age and perhaps, five to ten years from now, will pose a threat to its neighbors because it IS the only carrier (other than US) capable of projecting power over the several disputed spots in the South China Sea, like the Senkaku Islands, that both Japan and China claim as theirs. Both seem to be face to face about this. The carrier will have J-15 aircraft, which are cloned Soviet SU-33. However, China already has UAV drones being used off the carrier to conduct surveillance.
China will likely use the carrier and other ships to intimidate its weaker neighbors and to challenge the US based in Japan as the dispute over the Senkaku Islands rises. Japan is planning to build facilities on them and China has called them "sacred" territory. These islands are a mere 12 miles off the Chinese coast, which would seem to make them Chinese but history indicates otherwise and until recently (the last 10-15 yrs), China has expressed little interest in them because they are barren. It is amazing what power does to a people and nation. When China feels ready, they will just bully their way in.
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