North Korea at large!
This process is playing out in East Asia right now. North Korea poses a direct threat to its neighbors, so we should not be surprised if they put aside their differences and resolve the matter once and for all. A nuclear test was bad enough; no one wants to be blamed for failing to stop something worse.
THE EAGLE & THE DRAGON:War in the Pacific?
Yep, got an ol' fashioned arms race abrewin' in the WesPac. China's building aircraft carriers. Had the outline of a carrier on the ground for training for somethin' like a decade. China wanted to buy the U.S.S Midway, but she tipped her hand & the plan fell through... U.S.N. has a coupla new CV's coming, check out the Stuff page.
Aircraft Carrier Project
At present China has very little in the way of credible power-projection capabilities, though China can already project military forces superior to those that South-east Asian countries could deploy to the South China Sea. The PLA Navy has studied the acquisition of an aircraft carrier since the mid-1980s, and there are persistant reports that China has plans to launch a 40,000 ton class aircraft carrier by 2010, though these reports remain unsubstantiated and appear to based on woefully inadequate analysis and information. While the navy has lobbied for a carrier for many years, their proposals have been overruled by the Central Military Commission. This decision may have been motivated by a desire not to be seen to be adding a major new capability to China's maritime forces, with consequent adverse regional reaction. From a purely military perspective, a Chinese aircraft carrier would be expensive to operate, and carrier would be vulnerable to attack by aircraft, fast surface vessels and submarines. An aircraft carrier could enhance China's ability to lay claim to the islands and coral atolls of the South China Sea, an area potentially rich in oil and other resources. And an aircraft carrier would make a potent political and diplomatic statement, potentially creating a major change in the strategic balance in East Asia. In 1992, the Chinese authorities reportedly authorized a program for studying the development of an aircraft carrier. Chinese leaders at various levels have done extensive feasibility studies on this project since then. In 1993, senior leaders of the Chinese Navy announced that China would start developing an aircraft carrier. In January 1993, Chinese political leaders decided to step up their carrier program and allocated several billion dollars for the project. At that time, China had planned to finish the first aircraft carrier by 2000, but the plan was delayed repeatedly due to lack of carrier technology. Eventually it was decided to advance the carrier program in two stages. Phase 1 - Study Foreign Technology During the first stage, China has bought several scrapped carriers from overseas in order to study the parts. In 1985 China purchased the 17,000-ton former Royal Australian Navy aircraft carrier, HMAS Melbourne as scrap, and she was finally broken up in Dalian, China. According to some reports stated that as late as 1994 the ship was still in existence at Guangzhou, China, being studied by Chinese naval architects. The hulk had been stripped of all useful equipment prior to sale, but Australian Navy sources reportedly said that the Chinese were particularly interested in the ship's steam catapult - even requesting the operating manuals. It is said that a navy unit has built a simulated flying deck at its airport in northern China. The design of the Melbourne was taken for reference. Reportedly, the airborne troops of the navy have used the deck to carry out numerous flying tests. The improved deck adopted the optical landing system designed and developed by China. In 1992 China was reported to have opened discussions with Ukraine to purchase of the Varyag, a 67,500-ton Kiev-class attack aircraft carrier about two-thirds complete and docked at the Black Sea shipyard of Nikolayev. In mid-1992 China's Science Academy sent 15 naval specialists to Ukraine for two months to conduct a feasibility study on the matter. After hearing their report, the Central Military Commission decided to go ahead with the plan and buy a carrier, aircraft and electronic equipment by 1994. These negotiations were ultimately fruitless, after Japan and the United States put pressure on Ukraine to pull out of the deal. In 1993 China began negotiations with Russia for the purchase of two 40,000-ton carriers, though again with no results. In 1995 a Spanish firm, Empresa Nacional Bazan, is reported to have offered to build China two conventional takeoff-and-landing (CTOL) vessel, with the first to be delivered within five years and the second roughly three years later. While China is reported to have expressed an interest, a deal was not reached. In late 1995, France is reported to have offerred the Clemenceau for free, provided that China bought radar and communications systems from French companies. Nothing came of the offer. In 1998 the Minsk was purchased from a South Korean shipbreaking company by the Minsk Aircraft Carrier Industry Company, a Chinese firm. The South Korean firm stripped the vessel of its armaments, engines, and communications suite and required that the vessel would not be used for military purposes. The Chinese company had the ship towed to Guangdong Province, where it planned to convert the ship into a floating museum. In September 2000 the ship was moved to Shenzhen to become part of a theme park called Minsk World. In early 1998 a Macau-based company, Chin Lot Tourist and Amusement Agency bought the Varyag for $20 million dollars, with the announced intent of turning it into a floating amusement park and gambling casino in Macau. The contract with Ukraine stipulated that the buyer can't use the carrier for military purposes, and that any equipment that could be used to build other warships were removed from the craft. In 1999 a respected Hong Kong periodical reported that British and French companies had made Beijing an offer to equip the Varyag with many of the systems needed to make it operational. In March 2002, following a significant delay by Turkish authorities who denied the carrier passage through the Bosporus Strait, the Varyag arrived in Dalian. Chong Lot is a subsidary a Hong Kong firm called Chinluck (Holding). Chong Lot was also connected to another Hong Kong company, Goldspot Investments Ltd. All three firms had connections with former People's Liberation Army officials. Directors of Chinluck were reported to have ties to the Chinese Navy, though Chinluck denied any People's Liberation Army involvement in the sale of the Varyag. Three of the five directors of Chinluck Holding, the parent company of Chong Lot, are Chinese nationals from Shandong, which happens to be the home of the Chinese navy's North sea fleet. Chinluck (Holding) Co. Ltd. does not have any public presence, and Chong Lot carried a non-existent address in Macau. In 2003 Sky Cruise International Company Limited sought the winding up of Chinluck (Holdings) Company Limited. The petition was filed on August 16, 2003, and was heard before the High Court of Hong Kong on November 12, 2003 at 9:30 in the morning. Sky Cruise holds its registered office at 13th Floor, Bel Trade Commercial Building, 1-3 Burrows Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong. On 04 April 2003 Zhong Nan Group (Hong Kong) Investments Ltd filed suit against Chinluck (Holdings) Co Ltd to recover USD1,928,200. But the the Chinluck Group remained active. On 10 March 2005 Xinhuanet quoted Cheng Zhen Shu, who is chairman of the Chinluck Group Limited in Hong Kong, as saying "The adoption of the anti-secession law and mighty military strengthen will deter 'Taiwan independence' elements from pursuingillegal activities." The carrier is surrounded with heavy security in Dalian, which bars civilian access; police flank the shipyard entrance. This fueled speculation that the Varyag is being used by the Chinese military. It is not evident that China could actually turn Varyag into an active military warship, since he is badly deteriorated. Presently 70 percent complete, Varyag displaces about 33,600 tons [versus the 67,000-ton design displacement]. Varyag no longer has the nuclear reactors that were installed by the Ukrainian state-run Generating Systems of Crimea. Electronics were either never fitted or removed before he was sold. In May 2000 the Tianma Shipbreaking Company in Tianjin purchased the Kiev from Russia. While the initial contract required that the ship be scrapped, the contract was renogatiated so that the Kiev would become a tourist attraction at the Beiyang Recreation Harbor. Phase 2 - New Construction China appears to have chosen to build a Chinese aircraft carrier, rather than purchasing one off-the-shelf. Although China’s long-term goal is to acquire one or more aircraft carriers and it has an active program to develop a design, it remains unclear whether Beijing has reached a firm decision on the kind of carrier it will have, given budget constraints and naval funding priorities. The PLA Navy will need to overcome several large obstacles before it can field an operational aircraft carrier and associated supporting ships. First, the PLA Navy does not have any carrier-capable aircraft. Second, although substantially improved in these areas, it still needs more and better antisubmarine and antiaircraft capabilities to protect a carrier and its supporting vessels. Finally, to have adequate power projection capabilities from the use of a carrier, it is preferable to have more than one carrier so that a carrier is assuming the mission at sea at all times. Thus, many experts have concluded that an operational aircraft carrier does not appear to be in China's near future, even though China is funding research and development and training officers in aircraft carrier operations. According to one Russian report, China plans to build an aircraft carrier with a displacement of between 40,000 to 60,000 tons. The feasibility study and draft design of China's aircraft carrier started in 1992. According to Russian sources, China began work on its own carrier in 1999 at Shanghai Shipyard. This carrier, code named "9985 plan" or "Project 9935," would have a 48,000 ton displacement, capable of carrying 30-40 fighter jets, most of which would be multi-functional SU-30MKK jets bought from Russia. The first carrier of purely Chinese design, the ship could have a built-in vertical anti-air and anti-ship missile launching system. China had reportedly started work on naval bases and harbors in Shanghai, Zanjiang and Dalian to improve docking facilities for this carrier. The plan for China's first light and conventional powered aircraft carrier was estimated to cost around 4.8 billion yuan, with authorities reportedly having already allocated one billion yuan for the first phase of the project. The aircraft carrier was expected to be launched in 2003 and to officially go into service in around 2005. From then on, it was estimated that China will be able to build a new aircraft carrier at an interval of every three years. If started in 1999, this carrier was expected to be completed by 2006. As of mid-2004 there were no credible reports of the start of construction of such a ship. In early September 2003 the Harbin Technical University held its 50th anniversary celebration. Founded soon after the Chinese Communist revolution, Harbin has been deeply involved in PLA military technical research. As part of this celebration Harbin students produced a 1:100 scale model of a prospective aircraft carrier. Derived from the KUZNETSOV design, novel features include the placement of anti-ship missiles, and the use of a new anti-aircraft missile similar to that on the new No. 170 air defense destroyer. Such a ship could eventually carry an air wing comprised either of navalized Shenyang J-11 or Chengdu J-10 fighters, plus Kamov helicopters for ASW or AEW missions. In January 2004 it was reported that China would build several helicopter carriers, having decided to delay plans to build aircraft carriers. China was said to ask a European country to build the helicopter carriers and a contract was said to be expected to be signed in the near future. An un-named European country was said to have provided China with the design and specifications of the carrier it would build for the Chinese navy. The helicopter carriers would act as a stopgap for aircraft carriers that the Chinese navy wanted to build, despite lacking the capability to do so. In June 2005 it was reported that China had completed the final design for an aircraft carrier, and wouldsecretly start construction in early August 2005 at Jiang-nan Shipyard, Zhang-xing Island near Shanghai. The 29 June 2005 issue of Hong Kong Economic Daily (Jing-ji-ri-bao,) reported that the project would cost 3 billion yuan (390 million dollars), about 3% of China's military budget. The ship was described as having a top speed of 30 knots, and a maximal displacement of 78,000 ton. It was said to be equipped with Russian engines and radars. It would carry 54 fighter planes and 13 anti-submarine helicopters, including the latest Russian fighters (Su-33). It was expected to enter service by the year 2008. Zhang Guang-qin, vice minister of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, denied the rumor that a carrier was under construction. While these reports persist, they appear to be based on rumor and speculation, which despite repeated efforts, have gone unverified. For instance, the multiple aircraft carriers that China is reported to be building, are all said to be under construction at the same time at a shipyard in Shanghai, which is also enclosed, to prevent observation. Though efforts to identify a building or structure of this size have not yielded any results. China has apparently decided to postpone commissioning of its first aircraft carrier until no earlier than 2010. The formation of an experimental fleet centered on such a carrier would take another three to four years. Based on the experience of other countries, it seems that that China would start building 10,000 ton cruisers to be convoy ships. It is also possible that China will purchase such cruisers directly from overseas, most likely the "Ukraine," a missile cruiser from Ukraine, which is now 93% completed, and then build China's own similar cruisers modeled on the "Ukraine." Helicopters from a carrier could provide support to potential amphibious operations; fixed-wing aircraft operating from a carrier could provide greater air defense over a potential beachhead. If China were to build or purchase an aircraft carrier, such an asset would enable it to provide increased air defense and support for amphibious operations. The proposed Chinese aircraft carrier could be a vessel of 40,000-50,000 tons of displacement, one similar to the French "De Gaulle-Class" nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Given the complexities of developing a new naval reactor considerably larger than the type used on PRC nuclear submarines and that a very long range is not required, conventional steam boilers would be adequate for a Chinese aircraft carrier. Russian designed steam turbines could give the carrier a top speed of 30 knots. The vessels might carry 24 combat aircraft, such as the Sukhoi-30MKK launched by a ski-jump. Below deck might be two missile launchers housing 24 missiles, either the Russian SSN-22 Sunburn or the more advanced Yakhont. China is also reported to be working on a land-attack cruise missile to be mounted on the vessel. China would probably build a carrier at the Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard.
Many people who call themselves pro-choice demand tolerance of the right to choose to kill almost-born babies, but are intolerant of the right to choose ones public school, to smoke, to own a gun, to rent your basement apartment to whom you choose, to drive a sport utility vehicle... George Will
Little Entertainment Break