China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier begins sea trials

by WorldTribune Staff, May 13, 2018

The first domestically-built aircraft carrier in China’s naval fleet began sea trials on May 13, Chinese state media said.

China’s new unnamed home-built aircraft carrier leaves Dalian for sea trials on May 13. / Xinhua via AP

The 65,000-tonne Type 001A aircraft carrier, which has yet to be named, left the shipyard in northeastern Dalian at 6.45 a.m., Xinhua reported.

“Our country’s second aircraft carrier set sail from its dock in the Dalian shipyard for relevant waters to conduct a sea trial mission, mainly to inspect and verify the reliability and stability of mechanical systems and other equipment,” Reuters quoted Xinhua as saying.

China said the new carrier is an upgrade to the Liaoning, the nation’s only operational aircraft carrier. The Liaoning, a retrofitted Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class vessel, went into service in 2012.

Naval analysts said that Chinese engineers and designers had studied and tried to incorporate the most advanced technology used by the United States and the former Soviet Union into the new carrier.

Analysts noted the more recently built U.S. aircraft carriers, including the USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Ronald Reagan, are nuclear-powered and have a displacement of more than 100,000 tonnes. Both the Liaoning and the new Chinese carriers use conventionally powered oil-fueled steam turbine engines.

The South China Morning Post reported in January, citing sources close to the Chinese military, that a third carrier was being built in Shanghai, with a displacement of 80,000 tonnes.

Hu Wenming, chairman of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, told China Central Television that the shipbuilder’s team now has the experience to build a bigger aircraft carrier.

“We have already developed a team of experts in the research, design and construction [of aircraft carriers], and their average age is just 36,” Hu said. “In the future, if the country wants to develop any type of aircraft carrier, we have the capability to do it.”

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