China's first locally made aircraft carrier starts trials at sea


The yet-to-be-christened warship set out at 7am local time from a dock at the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC) shipyard in China's Liaoning Province, according to local media reports.

The sea trials will mainly test the reliability and stability of the carrier's power system and other equipment.

Military observers have been watching for signs the new aircraft carrier was about to start sea trials after photos of it being moved from its berth by tugboats were published by state media on April 23.

Although the type 001A has successfully left the ship yard, plenty of problems can, and most likely will, arise.

The conventional-fuel-powered vessel is about 300 meters long.

However, it would still be no match in size or range to the nuclear-powered vessels of the US Navy, which has 11 aircraft carriers.

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

The new aircraft carrier has an inclined ramp and can accommodate more aircraft than its predecessor.

On the background of strengthening the position of the Chinese Navy, Japan is studying the possibility of construction of the first since the Second world war aircraft carrier.

The new aircraft carrier weighs 50,000 tonnes and analysis of recent satellite images suggest that modifications have been made for the ship to transport an additional eight aircraft.

The ship is China's latest attempt to assert its military might and follows a surge of investment from 2010 to 2017, when the Navy's ship complement increased from 210 to 320.

Sunday morning began in China with state broadcaster CCTV relaying footage of the vessel embarking into the blue on a rather gray day.

"If you look at China's acquisitions of facilities in the Indian Ocean and in Eastern Africa, they're quickly developing the capability to maintain a naval presence in distant waters", Ross said.

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the creation of a "first-class navy" at a major naval review held in the South China Sea.

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.