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China’s New Carrier Shows Beijing Is Done Playing Defense

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>imagine the Ramp....

commercial satellite photos published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington show what is almost certainly the early stages of construction of China’s third aircraft carrier.
This new vessel will be a major leap in capability compared to the two ships the Chinese navy has sailed so far—and it represents the evolution of Chinese carrier aviation from an adapted Soviet model to a Western-style fleet, one that speaks to China’s ambition to be the leading strategic power in Asia.
Like many facets of China’s modernization, its carrier program is a process of copying, adaptation, and innovation. The copying part came first. China bought the Varyag, a half-finished Soviet-era vessel from the Ukraine—little more than rusting hulk, really—and built a respectable midsize ship, the Liaoning, which is now evolving from a training vessel to one with some operational capabilities. China got the blueprints for the ship from the Ukraine, too, but it didn’t just finish the ship as the old Soviet Navy intended—it adapted and innovated.
Soviet carriers of the late 1980s were not built for the same purpose as U.S. carriers, gigantic floating airfields that allow power to be pushed far overseas. They were constructed with an entirely different operational concept in mind: protecting the near seas against foreign aircraft and surface ships. Soviet ships were smaller and armed with a battery of huge long-range anti-ship missiles under the flight deck. They were cruisers with a couple dozen fighter aircraft on board rather than true U.S.-style super carriers.