Sea trials begin for China's first home-built aircraft carrier

Adjust Comment Print

China has taken a historic step in its bid to build a navy that rivals the world's finest by sending the country's first domestically built aircraft out for sea trials.

The aircraft carrier "Liaoning", created on the basis of the modified cruiser "Varyag" - Soviet production, has become like for Shandong.

China's first carrier, the Liaoning, a retrofitted Soviet-era vessel bought from Ukraine, was hailed as the fulfilment of a "70-year dream" of the Chinese nation when it launched to much celebration in 2012.

The new aircraft carrier, temporarily named Type 001A, sailed out at around 7 am in Dalian, in the northeast province of Liaoning, according to reports in Chinese state media.

Reports said China is already building its third aircraft carrier in Shanghai.

The trials represent a landmark in Beijing's extensive project to modernize its navy as it continues to build up its presence in the disputed South China Sea and around Taiwan, which it sees as its own territory.

Military observers have been watching for signs the new aircraft carrier was about to start sea trials after photos of it being moved from its berth by tugboats were published by state media on April 23.

But it is still the U.S. that fields more aircraft carriers than any other country. The new Chinese carrier can neither sale for longer without refueling than the above mentioned USA carriers, nor can it carry as many planes.

Experts have said that the new carrier will have missions that differ from those of the Liaoning, which is mainly tasked with testing equipment and weapons and training personnel.

The US is the largest operator as it runs 11 nuclear-powered carriers with each having a full-load displacement of about 100,000 tonnes. This new steam propulsion system has been fitted on Type 002. The second Chinese aircraft carrier should therefore still carry 36 aircraft, including 24 J-15 fighters.

Footage aired by CCTV showed the imposing carrier accompanied by several smaller military craft leaving a wharf and heading out to sea.

Little is known about China's aircraft program which is a state secret, according to the news wire. They said the vessel has more than 3,600 cabins, noting that during construction, there would be at least 3,000 workers from across the country working on the ship each day.

Zhang Junshe, a researcher with the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said the Chinese Navy needs at least three aircraft carriers. For example, the new ship's island is shorter and the landing section is longer.