Having started life under the name "Riga", having changed three owner countries and been a casino ship, now the aircraft carrier "Liaoning" has become the first and only aircraft carrier of the People's Republic of China. What is the history of this ship and where is it now?
From Varangian to Liaoning
In 1985, the Soviet Navy ordered the second aircraft carrier of Project 11435, called Varyag. However, despite the start of construction work, it was never completed. During the division of property, during the collapse of the USSR, the cruiser in an unfinished state passed to Ukraine, but a few years later in 1998 it was sold as scrap metal to the Celestial Empire. China bought it for a ridiculous, even for those times, amount, namely $ 25 million.
Initially, it was planned to be used for very specific purposes - as a means of entertainment and placing a casino in it. The idea seems to be interesting, but the plans of the military included the restructuring of the cruiser for the military needs of the country. In 2000, 6 tugboats began transporting the ship, for which the Celestial Empire paid $ 5 million. Two years later, the aircraft carrier was delivered to China, and then sent for modernization and restructuring. In 2005, specialists from China took up the restructuring of an aircraft-carrying cruiser at a shipyard in Dalian for the Chinese Navy.
Test progress and potential difficulties
In 2011, at the request of the defense ministers, all major work on the restructuring of the Varyag was completed. However, according to many Chinese publications, "Liaoning" was not equipped with the equipment important for the Chinese aircraft carrier - aerofinishers. Initially, the Chinese side intended to purchase them from Russia, but was refused. The fact is that equipment of this kind is of a strategic nature, and its sale is impractical. Thus, the PRC faced certain difficulties, because the development of air protection systems is a very laborious and knowledge-intensive process. This could well cast doubt on the future fate of the "Varyag".
In the period from 2011 to 2012, the cruiser was subjected to various kinds of tests. So, in the middle of 2011, "Liaoning" sailed from the port for field trials, and then returned to Dalian again. And at the end of the year he again left his place of deployment. During this period, the ship was repeatedly subjected to verification of weapon systems and equipment. However, according to statements by many media outlets, citing official sources, the ministry argued that, despite all the measures, it will take several more years to fully complete the testing of the systems. Then it will be possible to land the aircraft.
Newborn Liaoning Birds
China is a very inventive country - for its newly made ship, its own variation of the carrier-based aircraft Su-33, which has the identifier J-15 "flying shark", was developed. Taking off from an aircraft-carrying cruiser requires a certain skill from the pilots, therefore, in 2008, the construction of a test-training complex for naval aviation began to train pilots and train them. The complex is identical to similar bases in the former USSR. To date, the complex has been commissioned.
Flying Shark J-15
According to the Ministry of Defense, from the deck of the ship there have already been more than a hundred takeoffs of the "flying shark" aircraft.
Main characteristics and weapons
The ship's displacement is 59, 500 tons. Length 304.5 meters and width 38 meters (flight deck - 75 meters). During the tests, a speed of about 54 km / h was declared. There are 1, 980 military personnel, of which one third are officers.
In terms of armament, the ship is equipped with anti-aircraft defense systems. These are three seven-barreled 30-mm Type 1130 weapons. The missile supply is represented by three eighteen-round FL-3000 launchers. The cruiser is based on an air group of 30 J-15 aircraft, another 24 Changhe Z-8.
To date, the Chinese aircraft carrier "Liaoning" was adopted by the PRC and sent on a long voyage from the port of Qingdao. To participate in field training and research trials. However, according to many media reports, the aircraft carrier Liaoning was spotted in the port of Tartus. Moreover, a thousand Chinese marines are reported to have appeared with the arrival of the aircraft carrier Liaoning. Tartus also became a haven for China's missile cruiser. However, Western media do not mention this.
The cruiser's arrival is understandable. For a long time, China has dreamed of reviving the Silk Road. And given the problems that are growing in the countries of the Eastern region, this may not be so easy.
Liaoning in the port
Let's end our article with a fun fact. In April this year, an 80-year-old Chinese resident launched his own aircraft carrier. A miniature copy of the Liaoning was built in two months with our own hands. Wen Yu was inspired to create such a toy by his grandson. The small aircraft carrier cannot boast of powerful weapons, like that of its older "brother, " but it still has one fighter on board.