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China’s First Aircraft Carrier Not Expected To Be In Service Until 2017

Varyag, China's first aircraft carrier
China’s first aircraft carrier won’t be ready to be put into active service until 2017, state media report. The reports, accompanied by a set of mix’n’match pictures mostly of the Varag at berth in Dalian, go to some length to explain that sea trials of new carriers are a lengthy business everywhere.

Late last month the carrier completed its ninth and longest sea trial to date, a 25-day sailing in the north Bohai and Yellow seas, where it was first spotted at sea. There is a set of pictures of the a vessel returning from its most recent voyage here.

While it is thought that the Varyag is fully equipped with its missiles and other armaments, further tests are needed to ensure that the various electrical systems on the vessel don’t interfere with each other. Flight crews also need considerable practice in the all-important art of taking off and landing on the carrier at sea, and particular in simulated combat conditions. The Varyag is estimated to need 30 pilots, all of which will take some time to train.

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