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The Varyag, China's first aircraft carrier, receives the side designation "16" on Sept. 3, 2012.

China is making use of an aircraft carrier - known as the Varyag (瓦良格) - that was bought from Ukraine. The 300-meter carrier is now stationed in the northeastern port of Dalian, Liaoning Province.

The ex-Soviet Varyag, which remained incomplete when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, was bought for US$20 million in 1998. Ukraine disarmed it and removed its engines before selling the craft to China.

According to Chinese military experts, the carrier has a displacement of nearly 60,000 metric tons. It is a conventionally-powered medium-sized carrier that will be equipped with indigenous Chinese engines, ship-borne aircraft, radar and other hardware. Fixed-wing aircraft on the carrier will use a ski-jump to take off of the vessel, instead of a catapult system, after the refitting is completed.

Once the refitting is completed, the aircraft carrier will make China the last of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to own a carrier. Among the other four, the US boasts 11 and the UK, France and Russia each has one in operation. In Asia, India and Thailand each bought and commissioned an aircraft carrier - in the late 1980s and 1990s, respectively.

The vessel Varyag began sea trails in August 2011 and on received the side designation "16" on September 3, 2012.

The vessel, as China's first aircraft carrier with the name "Liaoning" and hull number 16, was delivered and commissioned to the Navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army at a ceremony held in a naval base of northeast China's Dalian Port on Sept. 25, 2012.