China is planning an initial sea trial of its first aircraft carrier next month, a Hong Kong newspaper said Tuesday, a move likely to further worry neighbors amid heightened tensions over territorial disputes.The article says the ship is unnamed as yet. I thought the old ex-Russian Varyag was now Shi Lang, but maybe that was just for sport, since that was the name of a Chinese admiral who conquered Taiwan in 1681.
Some form of limited testing of the ship is planned to coincide with celebrations of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party on July 1, the Hong Kong Commercial Daily said.
Remember, this won't be an effective fighting ship for many years while pilots and crew train, and the carrier itself learns to operate with escorts, and as admirals learn how to use it. And it isn't as effective even with all of that as one of our big carriers. I imagine one of our amphibious warfare ships with F-35s aboard will be more than a match for it. If the Chinese carrier is committed to fight--whether soon or after lots of training--against anybody with a decent navy or air force, it will lead a short but exciting life.
Still, this is a start. And even without much training, it will be useful for show-the-flag missions around the world as a symbol of China's advances. It will also allow China to gain experience to build more.
Mind you, I wonder about the survivability of large surface ships like our carriers in modern naval warfare. Unless we network defensive missile screens to a high degree, these ships will be missile magnets. So China may just be giving us big targets to sink that will help restore our morale when the Chinese sink our big targets.