Mon, May 14, 2018 - Page 1 News List

China’s first locally made aircraft carrier starts trials at sea

AFP, BEIJING

China’s first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier, known only as “Type 001A,” leaves port in the northeast city of Dalian early yesterday.

Photo: AFP

China’s first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier yesterday started sea trials, state media said, a landmark in Beijing’s ambitious plans to modernize its navy as it presses its claims in disputed regional waters.

The carrier, known only as “Type 001A,” set out for the trials from a port in northeastern China at about 6:45am, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said.

Expected to be commissioned by 2020, the ship would give China a second aircraft carrier as it asserts its claims in the South China Sea, where Taiwan has virtually identical claims.

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

It is the first time the ship’s engine, propulsion and navigation systems would be tested at sea, a year after it first took to the water at its official launch, state media said.

China’s sole operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is a repurposed Soviet ship bought from Ukraine that went into service in 2012.

The possession of a homegrown aircraft carrier — which the Chinese Ministry of Defense has said displaces 55,000 tonnes — places China among the few military powers with such vessels, including the US, Russia and Britain.

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.

China’s warships would enable it to “project its power and influence in its neighborhood,” said Steve Tsang (曾銳生), director of the China Institute at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

“With the Chinese carriers substantially inferior in capacity to the US super-carriers, the balance of forces between the two navies will only change marginally rather than substantially,” he added.

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