Hugh Pickens writes writes: Commercial satellite company, DigitalGlobe Inc., has announced that it has an image of the People’s Republic of China’s first functional aircraft carrier taken during the carrier’s first sea trials in the Yellow Sea. The carrier was originally meant for the Soviet navy, but the construction on it was halted as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and engineers in the Ukraine disarmed it and removed its engines before selling it to China in 1998 for $20 million. The vessel, an Admiral Kuznetsov class aircraft carrier measuring 304.5 meters long, and having a displacement of 58,500 tons, has been refitted for research and training in China. The Ministry of National Defense says the steam-powered aircraft carrier has completed all refitting and testing work as scheduled after its first sea trial in mid-August, and was heading back out to sea for additional scientific research and experiments. According to Andrew S. Erickson at the US Naval War College, China's long term strategic dilemma is whether to focus on large-deck aviation or on submarines (PDF). "One Chinese analyst states that Bejing, reflecting the interest of the submarine faction, is currently focused on developing new types of submarines in part precisely because they can attack carrier strike groups (CSGs) presumably those of the United States," writes Erickson. "Until recently carriers had not been the best use of national resources because China lacks an escort fleet thereby making any carrier a vulnerable target."
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