China's newly-built aircraft carrier Liaoning is transferred from dry dock into the water at a launch ceremony at a shipyard in Dalian
14 May, 2018, 06:08
CHINA'S first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier started sea trials on Sunday, state media said, a landmark in Beijing's ambitious plans to modernise its navy as the Asian giant presses its claims in disputed regional waters.
China's first domestically developed aircraft carrier departs Dalian, Liaoning province, China, May 13, 2018.
China's sole functional carrier, the Liaoning, is a repurposed Soviet ship purchased from Ukraine, which entered into service in 2012.
The trials, along with the broader military build-up, follow the course of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who stated this April that the necessity to have a powerful navy "has never been as urgent as it is today". Chinese experts have said that the missions for the new carrier will be different from those for the Liaoning, which is mainly tasked with testing equipment and weapons as well as training personnel.
Speaking to CNN, RAND Corporation senior global defense research analyst Timothy Heath described the design as generally easier to build and to operate aircraft from. He hopes the young team can contribute more to the country's future aircraft carriers.
By comparison, the Liaoning is thought to now carry around 30 warplanes, including fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.
China has the world's largest navy in terms of numbers of ships, although it lags behind the U.S.in technology and combat capabilities.
However it would still be no match in size or variety to the nuclear-powered vessels of the United States Navy, which has 11 providers.
Aircraft launched by catapults can get airborne and with greater quantities of fuel and ammunition, giving them an advantage over Chinese planes, which rely on their own power when lifting off from the Liaoning's ski-jump.
The 50,000-ton carrier will likely be formally commissioned some time before 2020 following the completion of sea trials and the arrival of its full air complement.
As of now the vessel remains a ship with no name and is presently referred to as Type 001A.
There was also some speculation that carrier's sea trials would coincide with the annual Spring Festival or Chinese New Year in mid-February.
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