Monday, August 1, 2011

Will China’s first aircraft carrier be used in South China Sea?

First Chinese Aircraft

China’s first aircraft carrier, the ex-Soviet Varyag, is waiting for its sea trails in the Dalian port of China. Analysts believe it will not combat for a possible conflict in South China Sea even it turns mature in the future.

That is because the slip-jump deck of the Varyag cannot support a fixed-wing early warning aircraft to take off, the carrier has to use early warning helicopters, which have service ceilings only 4000 meters. With the probes on board, they are only able to detect invaders under the height of 8000 meters in a range of 150 km only. Spartly Islands are more than 1000 km away from the mainland of China. It is difficult for the Varyag there to get a support from China’s land-based AWACS, for example, KJ-2000 that has service ceiling over 12,000 meters with detective range over 300 km.

Because of above, the Varyag will possibly combat under a support of land-based forces for a dispute of Taiwan Straits or Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands after its fledgling period. The Varyag is a conventionally powered carrier with endurance around 40 days, so it will also be used for China’s humanitarian rescues aboard.