China launches first domestically-made aircraft carrier

China's first indigenously built aircraft carrier leaves for sea trials

China's first indigenously built aircraft carrier leaves for sea trials

The yet-to-be-christened warship set out at 7am local time from a dock at the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC) shipyard in China's Liaoning Province, according to local media reports.

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 country's sole operational carrier, the Kuznetsov-class Liaoning, was originally purchased incomplete from Ukraine in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse.

Neither Liaoning nor the new unnamed carrier is nuclear powered.

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.

Speaking to CNN, RAND Corporation senior worldwide defense research analyst Timothy Heath described the design as generally easier to build and to operate aircraft from.

Its predecessor was intended more as a training base, but the new ship is likely to be deployed for combat, putting China alongside the United States, the UK, Russia and France in its global capability.

The vessel is the country's second aircraft carrier.

Although China's 2-million strong military is the largest in the world and its navy is also the biggest in terms of numbers of ships, its defense budget in 2018, though raised, is still only about one-quarter that of the United States. Furthermore, "sea trials will test the carrier's overall seaworthiness including its speed, maneuverability, and equipment such as radar and communications systems, as well as safety features", I noted in April.

As of now the vessel remains a ship with no name and is presently referred to as Type 001A.

Prof Tsang added: "But for the rest of China's neighbours, the new carrier based doctrine of the People's Liberation Army is frightening, as none of them can remotely match China's new naval capabilities".

One of the key differences between Liaoning and the Type 001A is that while the first carrier was meant to be used as a training asset, the new vessel can be used as a front-line combat vessel.

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