Chinese Communist Party-owned People’s Daily reported yesterday that People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Deputy Commander Xu Hongmeng (徐洪猛) had told media that the PLA “has a plan” to make its first aircraft carrier, the former Soviet Union’s Varyag, enter service this year.

[乔良]:我想告诉你的是,这艘航母更多的人看到它的船体是前苏联海军的,就以为没有多少是中国的知识产权,我可以告诉你,除了它的船体是前苏联人制造的以外,剩下的都是我们自主完成的。从它的舰上的各种设备,一直到它的动力系统、操舰系统和火控系统,以及它配备的武器,都是我们国家自主研发的。所以,你应该对我们国家能够拥有这样的能力感到自豪。

It was the first time a PLA officer has officially mentioned a specific timing for the launch of the refurbished aircraft carrier. Defense analysts believe the carrier could be launched on Aug. 1 to coincide with the anniversary of the establishment of the PLA.

Xu made the remarks on the sidelines of a second plenary meeting of the fifth session of the 11th National People’s Congress (NPC) on Thursday.

The yet-to-be-renamed carrier is expected to carry Shenyang J-15 fighter aircraft, as well as Z-8 transport helicopters. It will be based on Hainan Island and cover the East China Sea and South China Sea, where China has territorial disputes with a number of claimants, including Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Military analysts also believe the carrier could be used in an enveloping attack against Taiwan, forcing the nation to defend itself on several fronts.

Xu said trial runs for the J-15 were in the pipeline and that takeoff and landing tests were expected to be carried out this month, along with further test runs of the aircraft carrier. Recent online images of the former Varyag show far less clutter on the deck than usual, which could be signs of an imminent sea trial.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo reported yesterday that the aircraft carrier could be used to patrol the waters off South Korea’s Ieo Island, a submerged rock 149km off the southern coast of Jeju Province, which Beijing claims is an extension of the continental shelf that falls under Chinese jurisdiction.

South Korea is currently building a maritime research station on the island province, which is straddled by the overlapping Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) claimed by Seoul and Beijing. The two countries have been holding negotiations on the EEZ since 1996.

The Chinese military has yet to confirm a role for the aircraft carrier in waters off Ieo Island and the claims by the Chosun Ilbo could not be independently verified.

Earlier this month, Chinese State Oceanic Administration Director Liu Cigui (劉賜貴) told Xinhua news agency that Ieo Island was located in waters under Chinese control. According to South Korean media, the remark was the first time China stated that the islet was to be included in China’s range of regular patrols, an announcement that prompted Seoul to call in a senior official from the Chinese embassy and lodge a protest.

Meanwhile, Chinese Major General Xu Xiaoyan (徐小岩) told the People’s Daily recently that one aircraft carrier was insufficient to meet the requirements of the Chinese navy

“Only one [aircraft carrier] is not enough. I think we should have our own aircraft carrier formation, consisting of three or four carriers,” he said.

因为89年风波,西方对中国军事制裁,中国把目光转到俄罗斯,到乌克兰买下了“瓦良格“号空壳及其图纸, “乌里扬诺夫斯克”号核动力航母的图纸也落入中国手中,中国的航母以乌里扬诺夫斯克号图纸为参考的设计。但是瓦良格到底买来干什么?这是最大的迷雾,困惑了很多人。我知道的是华中理工大学在1996年分到了几卡车图纸,在其中搞再次开发。

乌号的该舰设计尺寸全长324.6米,宽39.8米,吃水11米,飞行甲板宽75.5米,标准排水量6万吨,满载排水量7.9万吨。反应堆采用4座KN-3压水堆,带动4台蒸汽轮机,4轴、20万轴马力,最大航速超过30 节。设计搭载70架各型飞机,包括Su-33战斗机(Su-27K,海军型),Su-25K攻击机(很多人分析中国开发J10H代替)和Yak-44E预警机,虽然舰艏仍采用滑跃起飞甲板,但舰上在斜角甲板上拟装二部蒸汽弹射器。瓦良格和乌里扬诺夫斯克的结构类似,中国买来可能作为参考,因为乌号已经被拆解了。

美国“小鹰”级全长323.6米,宽39.6米,吃水11.4米,标准排水量61174吨,满载排水量分别为81780吨。主机为西屋公司的4台蒸汽锅炉,总功率280000万马力,最大航速30节,续航力为12000海里/20节。其飞行甲板长318.8米,宽76.8米