Written by Bucherm on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 8:56 pm
Spencer Ackerman posted a pretty smug blog entry on Wired.com about how China refurbing the Varyag isn’t that big of deal. Some of the whoppers:
- “It’s more like the aircraft carrier equivalent of buying a used car.”
- “but it’s conspicuous that the first Chinese aircraft carrier can’t defend itself[lacking SSMs] from seaborne threats.”
- “There’s only one of them”
It’s a used car.
Incorrect, it’s a partially complete car that was purchased and finished by another organization. It’s worth remembering that the Varyag didn’t even have functioning engines when it was purchased and towed to China. While the *hull* may be old, indications are that the Chinese have poured new wine into an old bottle. Most of the major components are going to be reasonably new.
It’s lacking defense against seaborne threats
This is a particularly baffling statement to make. For decades the major carrier navies, with the exception of Russia, have centered the defense of their carrier around escorts and the aircraft being carrier, not weapons systems themselves. American carriers have air defense weapons, with little consideration given to the carrier fighting off major surface threats. China not adding SSMs to their aircraft carrier is not a particularly egregious oversight, and reaching for that is grasping at straws.
There’s only one of them
Well, yes, but China is also building two more. So what if the Varyag is just one? There are more on the way, and even if the next two are Varyag-ish in airwing size, that means they can bring a more formidable carrier wing to the table than any other country except the US, Russia, and possibly France. (If you think the QEs are going to set sail with anything close to their designed limit I have a bridge to sell to you in Brooklyn). Ackermans argument here seems to be that…if you have zero carriers, but you can’t get three in service at the same time…then it’s better to stay at zero carriers?
The Varyag isn’t the prettiest belle at the ball. But for the needs of China, it’s just fine as a training ship and for showing the flag in the Western Pacific. That anyone could shrug his arms and go “it ain’t a big deal” is baffling. Of course it’s a big deal. Is it a big enough deal to fly into a panic over? Maybe not, but let’s not pretend that it isn’t a big step forward in the capabilities of the country that is effectively the #2 guy on the planet.