China's First Domestically Produced Aircraft Carrier Starts Sea Trials

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China's first aircraft carrier built entirely in its own shipyard left port Sunday to begin sea trials Sunday in a new show of military muscle.

China's sole functional carrier, the Liaoning, is a repurposed Soviet ship purchased from Ukraine, which entered into service in 2012.

The vessel has the temporary name Type 001A and set out yesterday from Dalian after President Xi Jinping announced a "world-class" navy under the Chinese Communist Party's regime.

China's second aircraft carrier launches from Dalian, China for sea trials on Sunday, May 13. She is 315 meters (1,033 feet) long and 75 meters (246 feet) wide.

Speaking to CNN, RAND Corporation senior global defense research analyst Timothy Heath described the design as generally easier to build and to operate aircraft from. The new Chinese carrier can neither sale for longer without refueling than the above mentioned US carriers, nor can it carry as many planes. The U.S. now operates 10 and plans to build two more.

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China has the world's largest navy in terms of numbers of ships, although it lags behind the technology and combat capabilities. Furthermore, "sea trials will test the carrier's overall seaworthiness including its speed, maneuverability, and equipment such as radar and communications systems, as well as safety features", I noted in April.

According to the Navy, the commander of the new carrier is Senior Captain Lai Yijun. The warship is an improved variant of the PLAN's only operational aircraft carrier, the 60,000-ton Type 001 Liaoning - a retrofitted Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class multi-role aircraft carrier.

Neither of the two vessels is nuclear-powered; instead, they use conventional oil-fueled steam turbine power plants for propulsion.

Those deficiencies "make the ship more vulnerable to attack, or create limitations during routine operations", the report said.

The ship is expected to join the Chinese navy as early as the end of this year.

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By comparison, the active USA fleet now sits at approximately 272 ships, he said.

According to state owned media Xinhuanet, construction began in April of a year ago, to make it ready for for its trial mission at sea, equipment debugging, outfitting and mooring tests were completed.

The new vessel, by comparison, will focus on what a genuine aircraft carrier is supposed to do like conducting combat-ready patrols and safeguarding China's maritime sovereignty and interests, the report said.

Last week USA intelligence suggested there is a high probability that the Chinese fired missiles to three artificial islands in military drills.

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