China's first home-grown aircraft carrier launches

China's first home-grown aircraft carrier launches

The People's Liberation Army Navy's (PLA Navy) first domestically designed and built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A Shandong (CV-17), began its maiden sea trial early Sunday morning, Chinese state media reported.

The Xinhua news agency reports that the new aircraft carrier set sail for the trials from a port in the northeastern city of Dalian, Liaoning Province, on Sunday.

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.

Its predecessor was intended more as a training base, but the new ship is likely to be deployed for combat, putting China alongside the United States, the UK, Russia and France in its global capability.

Officials still have not named the 50,000-ton carrier.

China has been steadily increasing investment to modernize its military forces, investing approximately US$ 175 billion in 2018, an 8.1 percent increase over 2017.

Chinese state media have quoted experts as saying that the country needs at least six carriers.

The Liaoning, which appears to serve as a training vessel as much as a combat ship, was the centerpiece of a naval parade of 48 ships attended last month by China's leader, Xi Jinping.

The new ship will be the second aircraft carrier in the expanding Chinese Navy.

In addition, the carrier is first built on their own.

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.

China and India have been seen to rapidly modernise their militaries, especially the navy, which both countries believe will play a crucial role in the Indian-ocean and Indo-Pacific regions.

American sea power is expected to continue dominating over the next 10 years, but China is fast developing capabilities to maintain presence in distant waters.

Compared to the rest of the Asia region, Ross said, only Japan can now equal the Chinese navy and even then they probably only had about five years before they too would be surpassed.

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