China's first homegrown aircraft carrier heads out for sea trial

China's first indigenously built aircraft carrier leaves for sea trials
China's first domestically built aircraft carrier begins maiden sea trial

14 May, 2018

The carrier, known only as "Type 001A", set out for the trials from a port in northeastern China at about 6:45am, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said. But it would still be no match in size or range to the nuclear powered vessels of the US Navy, which has 11 carriers.

The new aircraft carrier has an inclined ramp and can accommodate more aircraft than its predecessor.

China's second aircraft carrier will be "modernized" compared to its first, experts said, with a design that's bigger and heavier to allow it to carry more planes.

Construction of the unnamed carrier was completed in April previous year.

The carrier's maiden sea trials follows a speech given by Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 12, in which he announced plans to build a "world-class" navy under the banner of the Chinese Communist Party.

The new aircraft carrier weighs 50,000 tonnes and analysis of recent satellite images suggest that modifications have been made for the ship to transport an additional eight aircraft.

The new vessel, by comparison, will focus on what a genuine aircraft carrier is supposed to do like conducting combat-ready patrols and safeguarding Chinas maritime sovereignty and interests, the report said.

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The new carrier's name and hull code remain unknown as the People's Liberation Army Navy usually makes public such information only once a ship is commissioned.

Cui Yiliang, editor-in-chief of Modern Ships magazine, said the new carrier's sea trials will be like those of the Liao-ning, and the total time needed for the trials may be slightly shorter than the Liao-ning's because Navy personnel have had experience obtained through the Liao-ning's operations.

China may still be a long way from presenting a global challenge to the US Navy, but as a regional power its military program is moving fast. The vessel's target date is 2019, according to the South China Morning Post.

Alluding to recent Chinese shows of force toward Taiwan, Michael Kovrig, senior adviser for North East Asia at the International Crisis Group, poured more insight on the development saying: "It's raising the cost of an intervention, particularly by the US, in any conflict off China's coast".

China only has one aircraft carrier (pictured, the ship at its 2007 launch), which is called the Liaoning.

Beijing has embarked on an extensive project to build a "blue water" navy and modernise its two million-strong military, the world's largest.

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