The Varyag, China's first aircraft carrier, in Dalian on April 23, where it has been docked since 2002. Acquired by China from Ukraine in 1998, for the past nine years the carrier has been undergoing modernization work: When purchased, it did not include electronic circuits, radars, antennas, engines, or other critical equipment.
In April, the New York Times reported that Xinhua had posted photographs of the aircraft carrier with captions stating that the work would end soon and that the carrier was expected to sail later this year. It was the first time that Xinhua had given visual evidence of the carrier project, which is widely seen as a linchpin of China's military modernization and naval ambitions. The country's efforts have raised fears among foreign governments that China will use a more robust military for expansionist purposes or to press for regional dominance.
A report by Britain-based Jane's Defence Weekly stated that the carrier would come equipped with phased-array radars and surface-to-air missiles, making it a more independent platform than its U.S. equivalent, which is dependent on Aegis-type guided-missile cruisers for protection. The 302-m long and 70.5-m wide carrier will have a cruising speed of between 29 and 31 knots. The carrier's loaded displacement (weight) of 67,000 tons will enable it to host as many as 50 aircraft.