Chinas first home-built aircraft carrier begins sea trials

Xinhua News Agency China’s aircraft carrier leaves Dalian in northeast China’s Liaoning Province for sea trials on Sunday 13 May 2018

BEIJING-China's first domestically produced aircraft carrier began sea trials Sunday, the latest step forward in the country's quest to advance its military footprint.

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.

China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, arrived as a mostly empty hull from Ukraine and was commissioned in 2012 along with its flight wing of Chinese J-15 fighter jets.

Zhang Junshe, a researcher with the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said the Chinese Navy needs at least three aircraft carriers.

China's second aircraft carrier will be "modernized" compared to its first, experts said, with a design that's bigger and heavier to allow it to carry more planes.

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the creation of a "first-class navy" at a major naval review held in the South China Sea.

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 Mr Tsang.

The new carrier is based on the former Soviet Union's Kuznetsov class design, with a ski jump-style deck for taking off and a conventional oil-fueled steam turbine power plant.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

Once an aircraft carrier passes its sea trials, that doesn't mean it's ready for combat.

China's defence budget plan increased 8.1 percent to 1.1 trillion yuan ($175 billion) in 2018, however it is still just about one-quarter that of the United States.

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

The Liaoning has conducted a series of manoeuvres with dozens of other ships, submarines and aircraft in the South China Sea in recent weeks.

Beijing and New Delhi have embarked on an extensive project to build a "blue water" navy and modernise its over million-strong militaries.

Compared to the rest of the Asia region, Ross said, only Japan can now equal the Chinese navy and even then they probably only had about five years before they too would be surpassed.

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