Saturday, December 5, 2009

US Admiral: China to have first aircraft carrier by ’15

Even as the delivery schedule of the Gorshkov aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy remains uncertain, China is likely to have its first operational aircraft carrier by 2015, a top US Admiral in charge of the US Pacific Command (PACOM) has said.

“I think they are making a strong effort to advance the idea of making an aircraft carrier operational between now and 2015,” said Admiral Robert F Willard, whose area of responsibility covers both the Chinese and Indian Navies.

However, the officer said aircraft carrier operations would require a lot of training and effort. “I may tell you that aircraft carrier operations are very expensive and complex and require a great deal of training and dedication. The Chinese are stating that intent,” said Admiral Willard, who is on a two day visit to India.

India, on its part, believes the first Chinese aircraft carrier could be launched as early as 2012 but would be a ‘basic platform’ that would only be used for training purposes. As reported by this newspaper in April, China moved the defunct ‘Varyag’ aircraft carrier that is purchased as scrap from Ukraine to a new location near the Dalian shipyard where it is likely to be refurbished.

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