China Claims Nearly-Operational, Weaponized Aircraft Carrier Is for "Scientific Research"

So you want to advance the scientific output of your country—great. What's your next move? Spend a massive amount of cash repairing, refitting, and adding guns to a giant Soviet aircraft carrier? Yeah, claims China. Hmm.

The Shi Lang—recently spotted by China Defense Blog with smoke pouring out of it—will probably be cruising the seas soon. And it'd be normal to expect it to do things that other aircraft carriers do: military stuff. Covering its deck in jets, escorting other portions of the Chinese navy, and generally being an enormous floating power penis with its bow pointed at Taiwan (and the rest of the world). Which is why this story from the state-run Xinhua news agency seems a bit, uh, less than true:

The Defense Ministry officially confirmed Wednesday that China was pursuing an aircraft carrier program aimed at refitting an imported carrier as a platform for scientific research, experiment and training.
It appears China is a long way off having a carrier with real fighting capacity since developing and building this type of vessel is a long and complicated process...With or without an aircraft carrier, China will unwaveringly pursue its peaceful development. And any misgivings or nervousness about China's aircraft carrier program are completely unnecessary.

Yes world, nothing to see here, just an enormous aircraft carrier outfitted with 10-barrel gatling guns and missile launchers. For science. Hey, China, listen: you're a major world power. You can admit you want an aircraft carrier for the possibility that you may someday wish to blow shit up. We certainly have no problem talking about it! [CDB via DefenseTech]


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