|SPECIFICATIONS||PHOTOGRAPHS (Click on the pictures for an enlarged photo)|
Length: 992 ft
Width: 237 ft
Beam: 116 ft
Displacement: 65,000 tons
Propulsion: 8 boilers, 4 shafts
Speed: 32 knots
- 24 Fighter/Attack (J15, J31)
- 4 AEW Helo (KA-31, Z-8)
- 12 ASW/SAR helos (KA-27, Z-8, Z-9)
- 4 x 18 cell FL-3000N (72 missiles)
- 3 x 30mm Type 1130 CIWS
- 2 x 240mm ASW launchers (10 barrels ea)
- 4 x Decoy/Chaff (24 barrels ea)
Ships in class: 1
The new Chinese aircraft carrier, the former Russain and then Ukrainian Varyag was commissioned into the People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the Chinese Navy, on September 22, 2012, as CV-16, the Liaoning. This was after over ten years of carefully researching and studying her hull and machinary, and then completely refitting her to Chinese specification at the Dalian shipyards in China. She conducted her first "official" PLAN aircaft landing and take-off qualification trials November 21, 2012, which was announced and widely published by the People's Republic of China and the World-wide press on November 23, 2012. The Liaoning was on her second PLAN sea trial when these carrier aircraft qualifications were performed. These were both historic and monumental achievements for the Chinese Navy, the PLAN.
In early 2013, the Lianing moved to her new home port, Dazhu Shan, a new base built specifically for the carrier, 50 km southwest of the City of Qingdao, China...which lies to the South of Beijing.
The Liaoning set sail for its initial sea trials on Aug 9, 2011. She returned to port on August 14, 2011 and went into dry dock. While there she had her hull scraped and painted, received a new non-skid surface on her main deck, and may have had arrestor wires installed. She left dry dock on October 30, 2011 to return to more trials. She then conducted a total of ten builder's Sea Trials over the next year. It is likely that towards the end of these trials, that her actual intial landings and take-offs occurred. She was officially handed over to the PLAN from the builders in a ceremony on September 23, 2012 in Dalian.
The Chinese could not get permission from the government of Turkey to pass threough the Sraits of Istanbul until 2001, at which time the Varyag was towed to China, a cruise that the big ship, now without rudders or engines, made in surprisingly good condition passing through the Mediteranean, by the Cape of Good Hope headland, across the Indian Ocean, through the Straits of Malacca, into the China Sea and finally to Dalian, China in mid 2002. It was ultimately docked at the Naval Shipyards in Dalian where it has been under tight security ever since. The holding company, which had ties to the PLAN, had by that point gone out of business.
The Varyag was undergoing significant work, although until 2010, the Chinese government did not indicate to what end. Nonetheless, the carrier, after well over two years at the shipyards, was painted in the offical PLAN combatant colors, causing a stir of speculation as to what work may have been accomplished internal to the ship over the first 2-3 years and what her future held. In 2010 the Chinese indicated that they would make her operational where she would serve to gain experience in carrier operations for the PLAN while the Chinese build their own indegenous carriers. The Chinese have indicated that they intend to build several more large carriers by 2020 and that the first would be built in Shanghai. To date (2013) no new construction has been observed.
By summer 2011, the carrier had progressed to the point of having its sensors and close in weapons systems completely installed. By August of 2011, with initial dock side testing of lighting and engines complete, with her deck painted, and an initial helo landing performed on deck, she appeared ready to put to sea for her initial sea trials. She set sail for those sea trials on the morning of August 9, 2011. She returned to port on August 14, 2011, ending the historic event of China's first aircraft carrier putting to sea under her own power.
By September, 2012, she had completed a total of ten builder's sea trials in the year since her launch. In early September 2012, the pennant number "16" was painted on either side of her bow and on the forward part of her flight deck, ending the speculation as to what her pennant number would be. As stated, she was then handed over to the PLAN on September 23, 2012 as the PLAN Liaoning, CV-16. Here are the dates of her sea trials throughout the first year of her operation before handover:
-1st: sea trial (10 Aug 2011 – 13 Aug 2011) (03 days)
That's was a a total of ten sea trials in a year's time and a total of 92 days at sea,
It should be noted, that due to the costs of maintaining their small number of older SU-33 aircraft, the Russians are now moving towards making the newer Mig-29K, navalized aircraft their naval aircraft of choice. The Chinese will apparently make the J-15 their heavy strike and fleet defence aircraft, but have also recently (late 2012) flown a prototype of a new, smaller aircraft, the J-31, which adopts many stealth characteristics similar to the US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The Chinese are also currently embarking the Ka-27 export version of the Russian Ka-25 ASW and SAR helicopter, but also embark their own Z-9 ASW/SAR helo. They use the Ka-31 AEW helo from Russia for AEW operations, but have also built and embarked their own, new Z-8 AEW helicopter, which is heavier, carries more equipment and has greater range. The Chinese are currently working on a twin engine turboprop aircraft with a radar dome that many believe potentially could be adopted as a fixed wing AEW aircraft for the new Liaoning and eventual other, indegenous Chinese aircraft carriers.
When made operational, with a wing of indegenous J-15 aircraft, and eventual J-31 aircraft, coupled with Z-8 or Ka-31 AEW helicopters and Ka-27 ASW helos, CV-16, Liaoning will represent a significant shift in the balance of naval power in the Western Pacific.
Carrier Strike Group:
These new combatants include all of the necessary vessels to create and field a major carrier battle group of their own.
This includes a new class of AEGIS-like guided missile destoyers, the Type 052C, Lanzhou class, which they have built six of, along with a new, upgraded version of this same destroyer, the Type 052D, which has 64 hot launched VLS cells rather than the 48 cold launch VLS cells of the Type 052C, and which the PLAN has already prodcued two of and is building two more. It is expected that the PLAN will build twelve or more of these new destroyers bringing the total number of their AEGIS-like destroyers to eighteen.
The PLAN has also mass produced 18 very modern, mutli-role guided missile frigates, the Type 054A, Jiangkai II Class FFG, which themselves have 36 VLS cells and strong ASW and anti-surface capabilities. They are building more of these vessels in series production.
In addition, the PLAN is also building new, more modern, Type 93 and Type 95 nuclear attack submarines that can serve as sub-surface escorts for the Liaoning and other carriers as they are built.
The PLAN also has developed and purchase/refurbished and/or built the underway replenishment vessels necessary to refuel and replenish the carrier at sea, having conducted many UNREP operations over the years with these vessels and their new combatants.
Video of official J-15 Take-offs and landings on the Liaoning|
Video of official PLAN hand-over and commissioning of the Liaoning
The Liaoning, CV-16, at her new base, Dazhu Shan
INITIAL DOCK-SIDE TESTING AND HELO LANDING AUG 1-8, 2011
SEA TRIALS AUG 2011- AUG 2012
HANDOVER CEREMONY TO PLAN SEP 23, 2102
ARTIST DEPECTIONS OF CV 16, LAONING
DDG & FFG ESCORT VESSELS FOR THE PLAN CARRIER
PRINCIPLE STRIKE FIGHTE (J-15) FOR THE PLAN CARRIER
AEW POSSIBILITIES FOR THE PLAN CARRIER
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