Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

China tests carrier of its own design

China tests carrier of its own design

China's first domestically built aircraft carrier began its maiden sea trial early Sunday morning, state media reported, putting its home-made power and propulsion systems to the test.

The aircraft carrier, as yet unnamed, left its berth at a shipyard in the northeastern port of Dalian after a blow of its horn and a display of fireworks, according to reports in state news media.

Now the carrier, currently identified as "Type 001A" will undergo a series of tests at sea, before being officially commissioned into service by the Chinese Navy (PLAN) in 2020. The first - "Liaoning" - was built in 2012 on the base of the unfinished Soviet aircraft carrier "Varyag", bought from Ukraine in 1998.

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Speaking to CNN of this morning's sea trials, Sam Roggeveen, senior fellow at Sydney's Lowy Institute said: "This is, in and of itself, not created to be some frontal challenge to US power in the Asia Pacific, because it simply isn't in the class of America's aircraft carriers".

The new ship will be the second aircraft carrier in the expanding Chinese Navy.

Now the country only has a retrofitted Soviet-era aircraft carrier called the Liaoning, which was launched in 2012.

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Construction on the Type 001A, the largest and most sophisticated naval vessel in China, began in November 2013 and work in the dry dock started in March 2015.

The new carrier gives China more options as it asserts its claims in the disputed South China Sea and seeks to deter any independence movements in Taiwan. China previous year established its first overseas military base in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, where rivals such as the U.S., Japan and several European nations also have a permanent presence.

Video footage aired by CCTV revealed the enforcing ship accompanied by a number of smaller sized military craft leaving a wharf and going out to sea under grey skies. However, a source close to the navy said it was "too early to estimate" when the new ship would be combat-ready.

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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.

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