Liaoning (16)

Liaoning at sea, in December, 2016. Japanese Ministry of Defense photo.

Laid Down

Laid down 6 December, 1985, Riga was renamed Varyag in 1990. However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, construction was halted, and Varyag was abandoned in the Ukraine, only about 68% complete. The carrier was eventually sold to China in 1998, and towed to Dalian where she spent the next several years rebuilding. Commissioned 25 September, 2012, as Liaoning, the carrier is the first of her kind in China's military history. 304.5m (999 feet) long, and displacing up to 67,500 tons, Liaoning constitutes a considerable threat to other navies in Asia. However, her projected air wing of twenty-six Shenyang J-15 fighter-bombers (based on the Su-33), and fourteen anti-submarine, airborne early warning, and search and rescue helicopters, is expected to be a poor match against any navy that operates full-blown carriers of their own. Nevertheless, she is an important step in the development of the People's Liberation Army Navy, and  China is already working on improved versions of the Liaoning, with the first launched in 2017, and expected to be operational in 2020.