1st China-made aircraft carrier starts sea trials: state media
China’s first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier started sea trials Sunday, state media said, a landmark in Beijing’s ambitious plans to modernise its navy as the Asian giant 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 around 6.45 am (2245 GMT Saturday), according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Expected to be commissioned by 2020, the ship will give China a second aircraft carrier as it asserts its claims in the South China Sea and seeks to deter any independence movements in Taiwan.
Footage aired by CCTV showed the imposing carrier accompanied by several smaller military craft leaving a wharf and heading out to sea.
It is the first time the ship’s engine, propulsion and navigation systems will be tested at sea, state media said, a year after it first took to the water at its official launch.
China’s sole operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is a repurposed Soviet ship bought from Ukraine, which went into service in 2012.
Neither the Liaoning or the new ship are nuclear powered, but both can carry around 40 planes and have similar “ski jump” ramps, an old launch system that forces aircraft to carry fewer weapons in order to hold more fuel for take-off. (AFP)