Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Chinas first home-built aircraft carrier begins sea trials

Chinas first home-built aircraft carrier begins sea trials

The new ship, which is set to boost the military capability of the country, is the second Chinese aircraft carrier, but the first to be fully designed in China, as the first - "Liaoning" - was built on the base of the unfinished Soviet aircraft carrier "Varyag".

The first round of sea trials is expected to primarily test the reliability of the carrier's power and propulsion systems.

Last month, the local maritime authority announced that it had requested three areas in the northeastern Bohai and Yellow Seas to be cordoned off for PLA Navy activities for eight days raising expectations that the Type 001A was going to set out for its maiden voyage that month.

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.

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It is China's second aircraft carrier following the purchase of the Soviet-built Liaoning from Ukraine in 1998.

Embarrassingly, for the United Kingdom, their new aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, sprung a leak during its sea trials in 2017, and required repairs.

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

The ownership of a homegrown carrier locations China amongst the few military powers with such vessels, consisting of the United States, Russia and Britain. The new Chinese carrier can neither sale for longer without refueling than the above mentioned USA carriers, nor can it carry as many planes.

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However, it would still be no match in size or range to the nuclear-powered vessels of the US Navy, which has 11 aircraft carriers. Like the older ship, it can carry some 40 planes.

China past year established its first overseas military base in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, and its navy has recently deployed its ships further into the Pacific and Indian oceans.

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.

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