China launches 1st domestically-made aircraft carrier

The 50,000-ton carrier will be the second in China's naval fleet, following the Liaoning - a 67,000-ton, refitted Soviet vessel put into commission in 2012.

China on Wednesday launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier, which will join an existing one bought second-hand, amid rising tensions over North Korea and worries about Beijing's assertiveness in the South China Sea. Recent photos suggest the new carrier is quite similar to China's first, the Liaoning, which was purchased from Russian Federation and then refurbished and recommissioned, Defense News reported.

State media said the unnamed ship was "transferred from dry dock into the water" in the north east port of Dalian.

The PLAN declared the Liaoning as "combat ready" in November, though analysts (via Defense News) believe the Liaoning and the second carrier will be used for primarily training and acclimation for carrier operations.

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The new carrier is expected to be formally commissioned sometime before 2020 following the completion of sea trials and the arrival of its full air complement.

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Reports of the launch said a bottle of champagne was broken across the ship's bow and other craft in the port sounded their horns in celebration. That limits the weight of payloads its planes can carry, its speed and the amount of time it can spend at sea relative to American nuclear-powered carriers.

The possession of a native aircraft carrier places China among the few military powers with such vessels, including the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom.

It is the country's second aircraft carrier, after the Liaoning, and the first to be made domestically. Recent photos show that the hull and superstructure of the ship have been fully painted; however, the ship, which is rumored but not confirmed to be named Shandong, has yet to be officially launched.

Yesterday China celebrated the 68 anniversary of its navy establishment.

The Chinese official media on Monday said that India should focus less on building aircraft carriers to contain China in Indian Ocean, and more on its economic development.

China has offered little information about the roles it expects its carriers to play, although its planning appears to be evolving as it gains more experience.


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