China's first domestically-built aircraft carrier sets out for sea trials

Xinhua News Agency shows China's aircraft carrier Liaoning at a shipyard in Dalian

Little is known about China's aircraft carrier program, which is a state secret, though official media in recent weeks had widely speculated that sea trials were set to start. The trials are meant to test the reliability and stability of its power system, Xinhua said.

The yet-to-be-christened Type 001A carrier left a shipyard at the northeastern port of Dalian at 6.45am, Xinhua said, and sailed out of the port half an hour later.

China's first aircraft carrier - Liaoning - was also a 'Type 001 aircraft carrier.

The carrier was launched - moved into the water - in April a year ago, the China Daily reported.

The country reportedly plans to have four aircraft carriers by 2030 to operate from the disputed South China Sea as well as the Indian Ocean.

The possession of a homegrown aircraft carrier - which the defence ministry has said displaces 55,000 tonnes - places China among the few military powers with such vessels, including the United States, Russia and Britain.

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.


Now in service with China has two aircraft carriers.

But it would still be no match in size or range to the nuclear powered vessels of the United States Navy, which has 11 carriers.

"With the Chinese carriers substantially inferior in capacity to the U.S. super-carriers, the balance of forces between the two navies will only change marginally rather than substantially", he said.

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

Although China's 2-million strong military is the largest in the world and its navy is also the biggest in terms of numbers of ships, its defense budget in 2018, though raised, is still only about one-quarter that of the United States.

Chinese state media has quoted analysts as saying the carrier is likely to be ready to be combat ready two years after its expected delivery to the navy at the end of this year.

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