Published: Sun, May 13, 2018

Chinas first indigenously built aircraft carrier leaves for sea trials

Chinas first indigenously built aircraft carrier leaves for sea trials

State media reports say China is also planning to build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier capable of remaining at sea for long durations.

The still-unnamed ship left dock in the northern port of Dalian at 7:00 "test the reliability and stability of its propulsion and other system", the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The vessel is the country's second aircraft carrier.

China's navy has been taking an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with its first aircraft carrier, expected to serve more as a training vessel, sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and new Chinese warships popping up in far-flung places.

Neither the Liaoning or the brand-new ship are nuclear-powered, however both can bring around 40 airplanes and have comparable "ski jump" ramps, an old launch system that requires airplane to bring less weapons in order to hold more fuel for liftoff.

Most experts agree that developing such a force will be a decades-long endeavor for China, but progress on the home-built carrier holds a certain prestige value for Beijing, seen by many analysts as keen to eventually erode United States military prominence in the region.

However, even with the potential development of further carriers, it could still be years before China's navy is able to deploy its fleet effectively, said Tsang. The Liaoning went into service in 2012 after being refitted in China.

China's "Type 001A" aircraft carrier will displace 55,000 tonnes and use conventional rather than nuclear propulsion, according to China's defence ministry.

China has the world's largest navy in terms of numbers of ships, although it lags behind the technology and combat capabilities.

In March it sailed through the Taiwan Strait, prompting Taipei to dispatch ships and planes to track the vessel, on the same day Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against what he called any attempts to split China.

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.

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