The Liaoning Aircraft Carrier
The Liaoning (辽宁舰) is China's first aircraft carrier. It was delivered and commissioned to the Navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army at a ceremony held in Dalian Port, Liaoning Province, on Sept. 25, 2012.
The Liaoning, known as ex-Soviet Varyag which remained incomplete when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, was bought for US$20 million in 1998 from the Ukraine by a Chinese company. Ukraine disarmed the vessel and removed its engines before selling it to China.
According to Chinese military experts, the Liaoning aircraft carrier is 304 meters long, 70 meters wide, and has a displacement of nearly 67,000 metric tons. It is a conventionally-powered medium-sized carrier that is equipped with indigenous Chinese engines, ship-borne aircraft, radar and other hardware. Fixed-wing aircraft on the carrier will use a "ski-jump" system to take off from the vessel, instead of the catapult system commonly found on aircraft carriers.
The commissioning of the Liaoning officially makes China the last of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to own an aircraft carrier. The other four member countries are the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Russia. In Asia, India and Thailand each bought and commissioned an aircraft carrier in the late 1980s and 1990s, respectively.
The Liaoning began sea trials in Aug. 10, 2011 and received the side designation "16" on Sept. 3, 2012. It was delivered and commissioned to the Navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army at a grand ceremony held at a naval base of northeast China's Dalian Port on Sept. 25, 2012. Top Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, attended the ceremony. Senior Colonel Zhang Zheng was appointed as the carrier's first commanding officer.
On Dec. 22, 2013, the Liaoning successfully performed several tests of the combat system and organized for the first time comprehensive combat training. It has conducted more than 100 tests and training tasks since early December 2013, when it began a training mission in the South China Sea.