China's first domestically built aircraft carrier begins maiden sea trial

Saul Bowman
May 14, 2018

China's first domestic-built aircraft carrier has been sent on its first voyage for sea trials, according to Chinese media.

By comparison, the Liaoning is thought to now carry around 30 warplanes, including fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

The new carrier will be capable of transporting about 40 aircraft, and is reportedly modeled on the first, and now only Chinese aircraft carrier in active service, the Liaoning, a re-purposed Soviet aircraft carrier, put into service in 2012.

China has begun testing its first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier at sea, state media said.

Xinhua news agency released a photograph of the ship a short distance from port, and stated that the seat trials will test the "stability and reliability" of the carrier's power system and equipment.

Besides China, seven countries - the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Italy, Thailand and India - operate a total of 18 aircraft carriers.

The carrier's maiden sea trial follows a speech given by Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 12, in which he announced plans to build a "world-class" navy under the banner of the Chinese Communist Party.

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.

CSIC Group's 701 design office may have conducted a lot of design changes to this second aircraft carrier compared to Liaoning, but the two ships can still be considered sisterships.

The conventional-fuel-powered vessel is about 300 meters long. This new steam propulsion system has been fitted on Type 002.

The second aircraft carrier's name and hull code remain unknown as the PLA Navy usually makes public such information when a ship is commissioned. As of this year it fields 11 nuclear-powered carriers with "catapult" technology, in which pistons or electromagnetic rails speed aircraft up as they leave the runway. Chinese media reported that up to 36 Shenyang J-15 fighters can be based aboard.

Officials of the Navy said, several aspects of the new carrier are different from those on the Liaoning. Little is known about this new commander but unofficial sources indicate that LAI is "very intelligent" and has a "very good level in English".

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