Thanks to the foresight of a small group of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) admirals, especially Liu Huaqing, stretching back to at least the late 1970s, the PLAN now stands on the threshold of commissioning its first aircraft carrier and operating it with a full complement of aircraft, pilots and crew.

Although the exact details of the Varyag restoration, construction, modification and fitting-out program remain opaque, DigitalGlobe satellite imagery, combined with open source information, allows for a preliminary assessment to be compiled. This assessment is presented here…

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Insight Report: China: China’s Quest for an Aircraft Carriers, Part 1, Acquisition, Modification and Fitting out of the Varyag