Beijing: China's fledgling navy, always long on numbers but short on quality, took the first tentative step towards a power projection capability of some kind when on Wednesday its first aircraft carrier left the docks for sea trials. The vessel itself is a very old Soviet-era ship retrofitted over seven years to achieve some kind of serviceability.
The aircraft carrier will serve no purpose other than as a training vessel for its navy, for it lacks all the basic requirements needed to convert it into a fighting vessel. It carries no jet fighters as China has none other than a brave promise to develop its own version of the Russian Su-27 naval fighter.
The Russians have refused to provide it with their own developed naval version of the Su-27, over copyright problems with the Chinese have copied and developed their own version of the Su-27.
The Chinese version however lacks a power plant, as indeed do most of their indigenously developed fighters, including the ones exported to Pakistan, which are operating with Russian engines.
The Chinese are in the process of building two aircraft carriers of their own design, inspired no doubt by the design of the current vessel, which they bought at junk rates from Ukraine after claiming they intended to start a casino onboard in Hong Kong.
The Chinese navy has never operated an aircraft carrier before and will take atleast two to three years before they reach some kind of competency in operating such a vessel.