China to Start Trials for First Domestically Built Aircraft Carrier

China's newly-built aircraft carrier Liaoning is transferred from dry dock into the water at a launch ceremony at a shipyard in Dalian

The 77,000-ton Type 001A carrier left a shipyard in the northeastern port of Dalian at 6:45am local time on Sunday, Xinhua reported.

The first round of sea trials is expected to primarily test the reliability of the carrier's power and propulsion systems.

China is making clear its intention to accelerate the building of aircraft carriers to step up maritime activities.

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.

China launched the new aircraft after it commissioned the first carrier the Liaoning, a refitted Soviet Union-made vessel in 2012.

Its predecessor was intended more as a training base, but the new ship is likely to be deployed for combat, putting China alongside the U.S., the UK, Russia and France in its global capability. The new Chinese carrier can neither sale for longer without refueling than the above mentioned USA carriers, nor can it carry as many planes. The US has 11 carriers, all nuclear-powered. The carrier was launched - moved into the water - in April past year, the China Daily reported.

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The Shandong will be able to carry up to 24 Shenyang J-15 multirole fighter jets, a variant of the fourth-generation Sukhoi Su-33 twin-engines air superiority fighter, as well as around ten rotary wing aircraft including Changshe Z-18, Ka-31, or Harbin Z-9 helicopters.

The aircraft carrier, which has been under construction since November 2013, was expected to enter service around 2020, but the People's Daily quoted an expert last month saying that it may be handed over to the navy as early as this year.

The new carrier has a conventional propulsion system.

This gives them an advantage over the Chinese planes, which rely on their own power and the ski-jump designs on both carriers.

The vessel has more than 3,600 cabins. The PLA Navy has not officially announced a commissioning date yet for the carrier, although there is some speculation that it will take place in the last quarter of 2018.

This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.

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