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17 agosto 2011 3 17 /08 /agosto /2011 19:17

China’s first aircraft carrier, the former Soviet carrier Varyag, underline China’s naval ambitions and fuel concerns about growing military strength.

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La construcción del buque Varyag comenzó en diciembre de 1985 en la ciudad ucraniana de Nikolayev, y la nave fue lanzada al mar en noviembre de 1988. El Varyag estaba destinado a ser la segunda nave de guerra de su clase, pero a finales de 1991 el Ministerio de Defensa detuvo la financiación, y los trabajos de construcción se pararon en enero de 1992. En 1994 Rusia se negó a reanudar la construcción del Varyag, que estaba avanzada en un 70%. El costo total estimado de la nave era de $ 2.4 billones de dólares, y faltaban más de $ 500 millones  para completar su construcción. Para mayor complicación, muchos de los equipos y sistemas del buque serían obsoletos a finales de 1997. El gobierno de Ucrania decidió en junio de 1994 el desguace de la embarcación, después de varios intentos infructuosos de venderlo a Rusia, China o India.

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Por cuatro años, los técnicos del Ejército Popular de Liberación de China trabajaron en la restauración e instalación de sistemas internos para transformar al  Varyag en una nave de guerra totalmente operativa, convirtiéndose además en un excelente laboratorio de prácticas para la construcción de nuevos portaaviones en el futuro.

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Ashley Townshend, del Instituto Lowy de Política Internacional en Sydney, dijo que China requiere tres portaviones para conformar un grupo de ataque viable, así como buques de apoyo y aviones, y predijo que necesitaría alrededor de una década en desarrollar ese poder bélico naval.

Muchos países tienen, o están invirtiendo en misiles anti-buques y submarinos de ataque que hacen los buques de guerra grandes y mal defendidos, como el Varyag, altamente vulnerables.

 ”Los oficiales militares de EE.UU. son muy escépticos de la capacidad operativa del Varyag, sin embargo están mucho más preocupados por el desarrollo de misiles balísticos chinos para atacar portaviones de EE.UU.”

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El presupuesto militar de China, se ha más que duplicado desde 2006, de 298 bn de yuanes a 601 bn de yuanes este año, aunque sigue siendo eclipsado por el presupuesto militar de los EE.UU., Tailandia, Brasil e India. Cada uno de estos países tiene un portaviones, mientras que los EE.UU. tiene once. China es el único miembro permanente del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU sin un portaviones.

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Overhead view of the Varyag in June 2007 in Dalian. The hull & flight deck seem complete structurally, but the island is yet to be completed or fitted.


Varyag looking very trim and squared away in late 2006 at Dalian naval shipyards.

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QUE CLASE DE CACHIVACHES LE HUBIERAN EMPUJADO AL “AS EMPRESARIAL” ALEXIS HUMALA

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El «Varyag», de casino flotante a arma de destrucción masiva

Tras comprar su casco para usarlo como casino en Macao, China convierte un antiguo portaaviones de la época soviética en el buque insignia de su flota

El «Varyag», de casino flotante a arma de destrucción masiva

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El portaaviones chino Varyag se suponía que iba a ser un casino flotante y al final ha acabado convirtiéndose en un arma de destrucción masiva. Así de azarosa es la historia del primer portaaviones de la Armada china, que acaba de finalizar una singladura de prueba en alta mar antes de su botadura oficial.

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PABLO M. DÍEZ / CORRESPONSAL EN PEKÍN
Día 17/08/2011 –
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El «Varyag», de 300 metros de eslora y 55.000 toneladas de peso, fue empezado a construir en Ucrania durante la época de la extinta Unión Soviética. Pero el colapso de los regímenes comunistas en Europa del Este lo dejó varado y a medio terminar en los astilleros hasta que una empresa china lo compró por 20 millones de dólares en 1998.

En aquella época, era sólo un casco oxidado y sin motor adquirido a precio de saldo para, en teoría, albergar un casino flotante en Macao. Algo similar a lo ocurrido con el «Kiev», otro portaaviones ruso que supone una de las atracciones más curiosas de un parque de atracciones de Tianjin y acaba de abrir un hotel de lujo en su interior.

Pero, en lugar de acabar entre las ruletas de la excolonia portuguesa, el «Varyag» fue dirigido al puerto de Dalian, al noreste del país en la provincia de Liaoning, para su reforma y posterior adaptación como embarcación de guerra.

Durante cuatro años, los técnicos del Ejército Popular de Liberación trabajaron en su restauración e instalación de sistemas internos para volverlo totalmente operativo, convirtiéndose además en un excelente laboratorio de prácticas para la construcción de nuevos portaaviones en el futuro.

Según han informado durante los últimos tiempos distintos medios chinos y asiáticos, como la revista militar de Hong Kong «Kanwa», la rehabilitación incluyó todos los camarotes y salas para la tripulación, equipos de navegación, motores y sistemas de propulsión.

El «Varyag», sobre el que aterrizarán y despegarán cazas rusos Su-33 y los propios modelos chinos J-11, es bastante más pequeño que el portaaviones estadounidense «USS George Washington», uno de los once que tiene la Armada americana para patrullar por los mares del Pacífico desde su base en Japón. Pero su primer viaje de prueba ya ha elevado la tensión en Asia, donde los vecinos de China contemplan con temor su ascenso militar.

Japón ha criticado la «opacidad» del presupuesto militar chino, que oficialmente creció este año un 12,7% hasta ascender a 601.100 millones de yuanes (64.998 millones de euros). Coincidiendo con la singladura del «Varyag», Taiwán, la isla que permanece separada del continente desde el final de la guerra civil (1945-49) y cuya soberanía es reclamada por Pekín, mostró sus misiles Hsiung Feng III, capaces de hundir un portaaviones.

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Además, China se disputa con sus vecinos numerosas islas, ricos bancos de pesca y yacimientos de gas, lo que podría elevar la tensión en Asia si el régimen de Pekín recurre a su portaaviones como elemento de presión. Por ejemplo, en el Mar de la China Meridional, donde las islas Paracelso y Spratly son un foco constante de fricciones con Vietnam, Taiwán, Filipinas, Malasia y Brunei.

Frente a esta inquietud, China insiste en su discurso de «ascenso pacífico» y reclama como un derecho su modernización militar tras tres décadas de crecimiento económico que la han convertido en la segunda superpotencia del mundo. “Construir una Armada fuerte que sea comparable con su nuevo estatus es un paso necesario y una opción inevitable para salvaguardar sus intereses nacionales en un mundo globalizado», advierte la agencia estatal de noticias, Xinhua.

Por su parte, el general Luo Yuan, investigador de la Academia de Ciencias Militares, recuerda que «China no debería tener menos de tres portaaviones, que son los que tendrán la India y Japón en 2014, para defender nuestros derechos e intereses marinos de forma efectiva». De momento, el régimen de Pekín ha empezado con el «Varyag», el casino flotante que ya se erigido como el buque insignia de su flota.

http://www.abc.es/20110817/internacional/abci-casino-destruccion-masiva-201108171415.html

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More painting and refit work contiues on the Varyag, now in official PLAN colors in 2005 and with flags flying for a VIP visit.


The Varyag arrives in China at the end of its long voyage and is docked in the Chinese Naval shipyards at Dalian and in 2003 work begins on the vessel. In this time frame, not surprisingly, Chong Lot goes out of business. www.jeffhead.com/redseadragon/varyagtransform.htm

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China’s first aircraft carrier launches with pride amid regional tensions

Sea trials of former Soviet craft underline China’s naval ambitions and fuel concerns about growing military strength

 

  • in Beijing and in Delhi
  • guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 10 August 2011
    varyag china aircraft carrier
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    China’s first aircraft carrier, the former Soviet carrier Varyag which China bought from Ukraine in 1998, at the port of Dalian, in northeast Liaoning province..
  • China‘s first aircraft carrier has embarked on sea trials, in a potent demonstration of the growing naval power that is creating pride at home – and concern elsewhere in the region. 

    While China says it will only ever use naval power for defensive purposes, others say it is increasingly aggressive in pursuing its claims. Hours after the trials began, Taiwan pointedly unveiled its most advanced missile, hailing it as “an aircraft carrier killer”. 

    The refitting of the former Soviet vessel is part of China’s broader naval modernisation programme – which includes heavy spending on submarines and the development of an anti-ship missile system – and comes amid growing competition with the US and India, and a string of maritime disputes with closer neighbours. 

    “This is showing to the whole world that China’s maritime mobility is expanding drastically. This is showing that China is in the process of acquiring capability to control the South China Sea as well as the East China Sea,” Yoshihiko Yamada, a professor at Japan’s Tokai University, told Reuters. 

    In the past year China has had seen a series of territorial spats with Japan over islets in the East China Sea; and with the Philippines, Vietnam and others over the South China Sea, the location of essential shipping lanes and important natural resources including oil and gas. Those disputes are complicated by underlying competition with the US and India. 

    “By itself, the ship does not erode the credibility of America’s military presence in the region nor greatly increase China’s power projection capabilities. Nevertheless, the vessel is a potent symbol of China’s aspirations to become a global maritime power and is yet another indication that the military balance of power is gradually shifting in China’s favour,” said Dr Ian Storey, of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. 

    Last week, Japan’s annual defence report said the Chinese navy were likely to increase activities around Japan and warned that China had acted “in a way seen as coercive” in conflicts. Beijing responded by accusing Tokyo of irresponsible exaggeration. The test is a small step in the long journey towards building a viable carrier group, but it is already stoking unease in India, and prompting fears of an arms race between Asia’s two emerging powers. 

    The Indian Ocean is fast becoming a zone of contested influence between Beijing and Delhi. Indian strategists have been particularly worried by a string of ports constructed with Chinese assistance in Burma, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. 

    “The carrier will add a new dimension to the burgeoning Chinese navy which could provide a major challenge to India in its backyard, the Indian Ocean,” the Times of India commented on Wednesday. 

    Despite a £10bn modernisation programme, much of the Indian armed forces’ on equipment is outdated, and efforts to build or buy aircraft carriers have been hampered by political wrangling and red tape. 

    The Indian navy has a small 50-year old 28,000-tonne carrier, which it bought from the UK in 1987, but it aims to have at least two aircraft carrier battle groups in operation by 2015. 

    The ongoing refit of the 44,570-tonne Admiral Gorshkov, purchased from Russia in 2005, and the construction in India of a new 40,000-tonne carrier are expected to be completed in the coming three to four years.”We are definitely looking at deploying two aircraft carriers by the middle of this decade,” assistant chief of naval staff (foreign cooperation and intelligence) Rear Admiral Anil Chawla said earlier this year. 

    Defence analyst Ajaj Shukla said that India retains the lead in naval aviation, but that there was a clear fear of “the projection of Chinese power into the northern Indian Ocean in a new way”. 

    “The Chinese are at an earlier stage but once they set their minds to operating a naval air arm they will catch up pretty fast so it is being carefully watched,” he said. 

    The People’s Liberation Army Navy has also expanded its reach substantially in recent years – notably participating in international efforts to tackle Somalian pirates and more recently using a warship to support the evacuation of 35,000 Chinese citizens from Libya

    “[The trial's] symbolic significance outweighs its practical significance,” Ni Lexiong, an expert on Chinese maritime policy at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said. 

    “We’re already a maritime power, and so we need an appropriate force, whether that’s aircraft carriers or battleships, just like the United States or the British empire did.” 

    China has spent almost a decade refitting the vessel, which was towed from the Ukraine in 1998 – without engines, weapons systems or other such equipment – although the defence ministry did not formally acknowledge the project until a month ago

    The 300m-long vessel sounded its horn three times as it left its shipyard in Dalian, in north-east Liaoning province, amid thick fog, according to the state news agency. 

    The trial is expected to last a few days and Xinhua said tests and refurbishment would continue when the ship returned. 

    China has said it will use the carrier for research and training. It is believed to be building two carriers itself and experts think it wants up to four in all. 

    In an interview published in the China Economic Weekly, Chinese navy Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo said that China planned to build a “very strong battle group” but warned it would be a long and difficult task. 

    “The construction and functional demands of an aircraft carrier are extremely complex,” he said. 

    Ashley Townshend at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney told Reuters that China would require three carriers for a viable strike group, as well as support ships and aircraft, and predicted it would take around a decade to develop. 

    “Many countries have, or are, investing in anti-ship missiles and attack submarines which make large, poorly defended warships such as the Varyag highly vulnerable,” pointed out Storey. 

    “US military officers are very dismissive of the Varyag’s operational capabilities, but are much more concerned about the development of China’s own anti-ship ballistic missiles, which are designed to target US aircraft carriers.” 

    China’s official military budget has more than doubled since 2006, from 298bn yuan to 601bn yuan this year, although it is still dwarfed by that of the US. Thailand, Brazil and India each have a carrier, while the US has eleven. China is the only permanent member of the UN security council without one. 

 

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The Ukrainian Carrier Varyag in Ukraine Naval Yards, approximately 70% complete, prior to being towed away by Chong Lot Travel Agency.


The Chong Lot Travel Agency prepares to tow their newly purchased and rusting Varyag through the Istanbul Straits in late 2001.

Varyag

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Construction of the Varyag started in December 1985 at Nikolayev, and the ship was launched in November 1988. The Varyag was intended to be the second ship of the class, but in late 1991 the Defense Ministry halted financing, and construction work was halted in January 1992. In 1994 Russia declined to resume the Varyag’s construction, which was 70 percent complete. The total estimated cost of the ship was about US$ 2.4 billion, and more than US $500 million was needed to complete her construction. Further complicating matters was the fact that many of the ship’s equipment systems reached their planned operational life limits by the end of 1997. The government of Ukraine decided in June 1994 to scrap the vessel, after unsuccessful attempts to sell it of Russia, China or India.

Ukraine began trying to sell the ship, and talks with Chinese and British companies were held in 1995. However, it was hard to find a customer. The sale of Varyag for US$20 million was announced on 17 March 1998 for conversion to an entertainment complex and casino. The Chinese company — Agencia Turistica e Diversoes Chong Lot Limitada, a small company registered in Macau — agreed that the ship would not be used for military purposes, which reflected the fact that much of its equipment had either never been installed or had been already been removed.

However, since July 2000 Turkey rejected repeated requests to let the Varyag pass through Istanbul’s crowded Bosphorus strait. The coastguard was on alert, citizens were told, lest it try to “slip through”. For Varyag to pass with escort tugs, the strait separating Asia and Europe might have to be closed to other traffic. In early December 2000 Turkey barred the Varyag from passing through the Bosphorus straits, saying its passage would breach the 1936 Montreux Convention, which regulates use of the waterway. As of early 2001 the Varyag was off the coast of Bulgaria, under tow by a tug manned by a Chinese crew. It remained anchored in the Black Sea for months awaiting a go-ahead. Turkey allowed the Varyag to pass through the Bosphorus in October 2001, after China pledged to pay for any damages that might result. The Varyag reached the Chinese port of Dalian in February 2001 for a refit into a floating casino and hotel, before being towed to Macau. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/1143_5.htm

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2011 Starboard Quarter images show a Type-1030 30mm CIWS & an FN-3000N missile system outfitted, the APAR & Sea Eagle Radar are also seen.

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2011 Port Quarter images show a Type-1030 30mm CIWS & an FN-3000N missile system outfitted, the APAR & Sea Eagle Radar are also seen.


A satellite view of the Varyag in early 2008 in Dalian. The deck and the vessels’s exterior is looking very fit.

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www.jeffhead.com/redseadragon/varyagtransform.htm

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