China is conducting trials of an aircraft carrier of its own design

Casey Dawson
May 14, 2018

Now the country only has a retrofitted Soviet-era aircraft carrier called the Liaoning, which was launched in 2012. The first round of sea trials is expected to primarily test the reliability of the carrier's power and propulsion systems.

The still-unnamed carrier was launched this time past year but since then has been undergoing fitting of weapons and other systems and has not yet entered service.

The country's first carrier, the Liaoning, was bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998, refitted in China, and commissioned in 2012.

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 trials represent a landmark in Beijing's extensive project to modernize its navy as it continues to build up its presence in the disputed South China Sea and around Taiwan, which it sees as its own territory.

Embarrassingly, for the United Kingdom, their new aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, sprung a leak during its sea trials in 2017, and required repairs. Besides India, the US, Russia, the UK, France, Italy, Thailand and China operate a total of 18 aircraft carriers.

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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.

Little is known about China's aircraft program which is a state secret, according to the news wire. This new steam propulsion system has been fitted on Type 002. Like the Liaoning, it will use a ramp to launch J-15 fighter jets.

China has begun testing its first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier at sea, state media said. In March it sailed through the Taiwan Strait, prompting Taipei to dispatch ships and planes to track the vessel, on the same day that Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against what he called any attempts to split China.

The new carrier has more than 12,000 pieces of equipment that were made by 532 Chinese enterprises, including many private firms, according to officials from China Shipbuilding Industry Corp.

For example, the island of Type 002 is shorter in length than Liaoning's, which gives a slightly larger surface area on the flight deck, but not enough to justify a more substantial allocation of aircraft.

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