Tag Archives: Liaoning

China’s First Aircraft Carrier To Head For The High Seas

China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, will make its first blue-water voyage within a year, state media report. Xinhua did not say where the Liaoning would go or how long the sailing would last, but the trip is likely to include flight-landing exercises on the high seas. Since being formally handed over to the PLA-Navy last year, the refurbished carrier has been undergoing tests and conducting training operations from its home port of Qingdao.

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China’s Navy Gets Its First Stealth Frigate

PLA-Navy Type 056 frigate
The PLA-Navy has taken delivery of the first of 20 Type 056 frigates (above). They are called stealth frigates because of their ability to evade radar detection thanks to a sleek design and some of the same technology that goes into stealth fighter jets. The ships are so narrow there is only room for a third the crew carried by the earlier 053 generation of frigates. Their size might make them a corvette more than a frigate, but the difference is one without much distinction these days. Xinhua says the vessel was handed over in Shanghai earlier this week. The video below comes from there.

The fleet will be used on escort duties, anti-submarine patrols and what are called “operations against sea targets”. While it comes with the usual disclaimer about “weaponry research and development is solely for national security and not aimed at any specific country or goal,” the stealth frigate marks another substantial step in the upgrade of China’s naval forces and their capability to project force in coastal and regional waters. Not uncoincidentally, this Bystander suspects, China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, docked in Qingdao this week, too, the first time it has berthed in a military port .

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China Conducts Maiden Flights From Aircraft Carrier

China conducted its maiden tests of take off and landings by F-15 fighter jets from the deck of its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, during sea trials in October or November 2012.

Tick another milestone in China’s naval modernization program. It has has landed a plane on an aircraft carrier for the first time. The defense ministry has published photographs of a couple of J-15 carrier-based fighter jets taking off and landing on the Liaoning during recent sea trials. Quite how recent is unclear, as the photos, though newly published, are undated. Xinhua news agency had reported in mid-October that photographs of just such an event were in existence, though it did not publish them. The new pictures show clear blue skies and sea as smooth as glass, suggesting a day earlier in the year rather than later.

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China’s Navy Sails Its New Aircraft Carrier

It is a symbolic departure as much as anything, but China’s first aircraft carrier has sailed from its berth in Dalian for the first time formally under the PLA-Navy’s command. The vessel, a converted half-built Soviet-era carrier, the Varyag, was handed over to the Navy and renamed the Liaoning on September 25. Xinhua reports it slipped out of port on Friday evening.

Xinhua also reports that new pictures show a J-15 carrier-based fighter aircraft practicing take-off and landing on the craft, though the one that Xinhua publishes with its report was taken in May during another sea trial. We assume from this that the purpose of this voyage would be to start the serious business of training carrier pilots in real conditions.

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China’s Navy Commissions Its First Aircraft Carrier

Military officers stand onboard China's aircraft carrier "Liaoning" in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province, Sept. 25, 2012. China's first aircraft carrier was delivered and commissioned to the Navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Tuesday after years of refitting and sea trials. (Xinhua/Zha Chunming)
There was a certain symbolism to the timing of the formal commissioning of China’s first aircraft carrier into the PLA-Navy (above, with more pictures of the ceremony at a naval base north of Dalian here). It came as Beijing is embroiled in maritime sovereignty disputes with most of its neighbours in the East and South China Seas. Carriers project the epitome of naval power, and as many officials have repeated, are “symbols of a great nation”.

It is worth remembering, however, that China’s first carrier–a refitted ex-Soviet carrier, the Varyag, now renamed the Liaoning–falls into the class of light aircraft carriers. As a “ski-jump” not “catapult” carrier, it can’t launch the most advanced fighters. It is as much an aviation-capable patrol ship as a carrier of the line. It is primarily intended for the PLA to learn the ropes of carrier operations.

At the 58,500-tons, the vessel is small by carrier standards. It is about half the size of U.S. carriers, even if still large enough to dwarf the coast guard boats and fishing vessels now increasingly plying the more sensitive disputed waters off the coasts of China and its neighbours. This year was always the intended date of its commissioning, but state media have previously reported that the carrier won’t be ready for active service until 2017, which is not to say it won’t be available for flag-waving duties before then. But it is also worth remembering that two larger and more advanced carriers are under construction in yards in Shanghai planned for launch in 2014 with a first nuclear powered carrier scheduled for launch by 2020.

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North Korea Says Flooding ‘Severe’, China On New Alert

State media in North Korea are now saying that 5,000 people have been evacuated from in and around the northwestern border town of Sinuiju following the breaching of a dike on the Yalu River, which marks the border with China, on the outskirts of the Chinese port city of Dandong on Saturday. Sinuiju and surrounding villages were said to have been “severely affected” by the flooding of the rain swollen Yalu. Military units, including the air force and navy, have been deployed in rescue operations and to help shore up flood defences.

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The picture above shows North Koreans reinforcing the banks of the Yalu at Sinuiju on Sunday.

On the Chinese side 94,000 people have been evacuated from Dandong. Four people are reported to have died as a result of the rains that started on Thursday, with at least one more missing. More than 200 houses have been destroyed in the city and its surrounding townships. The water level of the Yalu had fallen below critical levels by Sunday, but more rain, inevitably, is in the forecast.

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While residents across Liaoning cope with the latest floods (the picture above was taken in the provincial capital Shenyang), authorities are again on flood and landslide alert across the country as more heavy rain in the upper reaches of the Yangtze and in the northeast has raised water levels in many rivers back to danger levels. Authorities have also called off the search for survivors of the mudslide that hit Zhouqu in Gansu two weeks ago. The official death toll stands at 1,435 as of Sunday, with 330 still missing.

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Large Scale Evacuation Follows Yalu River Dike Breach

The feared flooding of the Yalu River along the border with North Korea has led to a further 50,000 people being evacuated from Dandong at the river’s mouth after the waters breached a dike on the outskirts of the city.  A second dike protecting the centre of the city has held so far. Some buildings on the outskirts have been flooded to the first floor. Rail services to the provincial capital Shenyang are now cut because the line is underwater. Three people are reported missing. Authorities are now concentrating on preventing landslides.

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Renewed rain started falling heavily on Friday swelling the river, which was already at sufficiently critical levels for shipping lanes to have been closed for three days earlier this month and a first round of evacuations undertaken. The picture of a tributary of the Yalu looking from Dandong towards the North Korean town of Sinuiju was taken on Aug. 6.

We are hearing reports that flood damage on the North Korean side of the river as a result of the most recent rains has been extensive. North Korea has already acknowledged that there has been substantial damage in the east of the country as a result of the exceptionally heavy rains that have fallen all summer.

More torrential rain is forecast for the region over the next 24 hours, and for central and southwestern China.

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Crashed Plane Confirmed From North Korean Air Force

The North Korean plane that went down in Fushun county in Liaoning on Tuesday was a military aircraft that suffered mechanical failure after “straying” into Chinese territory, Xinhua reports. No word on whether the pilot was defecting, though Xinhua’s report does suggest by omission that the plane wasn’t forced down by the Chinese air force despite being 200 kms into Chinese air space. Pyongyang has “expressed regret to China for the accident,” according to the terse Xinhua report, adding that “China and the DPRK have reached consensus on coping with the aftermath.” Which would seem to be closing the curtain on the whole embarrassing affair as quickly as possible.

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An Unwanted North Korean Plane Crash In China

Tuesday’s crash of a North Korean military plane in Liaoning is a messy business all round. The assumption is that the pilot, who was killed when the plane ploughed into a house in rural Fushun county, was a defector. If so, Pyongyang won’t be happy that one of its pilots took flight in this way (the last one was in 1996), or that the picture now doing the rounds of the Internet shows an antiquated Soviet-era plane from its air force, an old MIG fighter jet or possibly a trainer, that apparently ran out of fuel while flying over China assumedly en route to Russia (all these assumptions coming out of unnamed South Korean intelligence sources). China has a repatriation agreement with North Korea, albeit one that is loosely enforced, whereas Russia does not, though in the circumstances that is now moot.

The nearest North Korean military base from which the plane could have taken off would be at Sinuiju, just inside North Korea’s border with China and 200 kms (125 miles) from the crash site. Flying north over Fushun would not have been the most direct route to the nearest Russian soil, though taking that would have meant heading north-east and flying parallel to the length of the North Korean border.

Beijing is now in contact with Pyongyang about the incident. Chinese state media have mentioned the crash only circumspectly. And questions are to be raised about how a foreign fighter jet made it 200 kms into Chinese airspace seemingly unchallenged. With the strained relations between the two putative allies not noticeably eased since Kim Jong Il’s visit to Beijing in May, both sides will want this latest incident to fade from view quickly.

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North China Water Shortages Worsen

More than 4.5 million people are now left short of drinking water as the severe drought in the north spreads, Xinhua reports, while a new hot dry spell to the south threatens new water shortages in Hunan and Hubei in central China. More than four million head of livestock are at risk and 133 million mu (8.7 hectares) of crops have been effected by the worst drought in 60 decades. In Liaoning, one of the worst hit provinces, half of all arable land has dried up,

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