Beijing, Sept.10 (China Military News cited from Chinamil.com.cn) — The Dalian Naval Academy held an orientation course for the first batch of 50 newly recruited pilot cadets yesterday (Aug 4). The first pilot program of recruiting pilot cadets is an important decision made by the PLA Navy to realize a strategic transformation in the new period.
The first batch of pilot cadets will receive a four-year education in the ship-borne aircraft flight field of study by relying on the automation field of study of the Dalian Naval Academy. During the four years, they will focus on the basic theories of surface ship and flight apart from the basic theories and skills required in the automation field of study.
Analysts believe that the PLAN will use Varyag as a training platform for carrier take-offs and landings. Robert Karniol, the Asia editor of Jane’s Defence Weekly, said: “The Chinese haven’t seen this type of carrier before and it could be very useful to them. They are trying to vacuum up as much know how as they can.” Liu Huaqing, a senior admiral of the PLAN and proponent of naval modernization, has spoken of the 21st century as the “century of the sea” and called for naval modernization over several decades. At the same time, there has been resistance within the PLAN at Liu Huaqing’s vision for an extensive Chinese navy, leading to constant debates between developing aircraft carriers and submarines.
On 24 October 2006, the Kommersant online daily newspaper revealed Russia plans to sell up to 50 Su-33 fighters for in a $2.5 billion deal. The deal has gone through according to the February 2007 issue of Air Forces Monthly. Also photos in the Dalian Shipyard have shown that a yellow anti-skid primer was added to the flightdeck. Then the final flight deck turf layering was added on top of it. The vessel has also been painted in the standard PLA Naval colours. This may indicate that the PLA Navy intend to use the ex-Varyag as an operational carrier at some point in the future.
The first pilot training program indicates that PLA Navy has initiated the final stage of “Aircraft Carrier” project with overhaulled Varyag.