First Chinese-built aircraft carrier takes to the waves for trials

First Chinese-built aircraft carrier takes to the waves for trials

China's very first locally produced carrier began sea trials Sunday, state media stated, a landmark in Beijing's enthusiastic strategies to modernise its navy as the Asian huge presses its claims in disputed local waters. The trials are meant to test the reliability and stability of its power system, Xinhua said.

This May 9, 2018, photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency shows China's aircraft carrier Liaoning at a shipyard in Dalian.

Most experts agree that developing such a force will be a decades-long endeavor for China, but progress on the home-built carrier holds a certain prestige value for Beijing, seen by many analysts as keen to eventually erode United States military prominence in the region.

Chinese military experts have told state media that the carrier, China's second and built in the northeastern port of Dalian, is not expected to enter service until 2020, once it has been fully kitted out and armed.

It is China's second aircraft carrier following the purchase of the Soviet-built Liaoning from Ukraine in 1998.

Unlike the US Navy's longer-range nuclear carriers, both of China's feature Soviet-design ski-jump bows, meant to give fighter jets enough lift to take off.

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It has been deployed to assert China's claim to virtually the entire South China Sea and is increasingly ranging farther into the Pacific and Indian oceans.

But it would still be no match in size or range to the nuclear powered vessels of the United States Navy, which has 11 carriers. The Liaoning went into service in 2012 after being refitted in China.

"With the Chinese carriers substantially inferior in capacity to the USA super-carriers, the balance of forces between the two navies will only change marginally rather than substantially", he said.

Nevertheless, Beijing has actually started a comprehensive job to develop a "blue water" navy and modernise its 2 million-strong military, the world's biggest.

Chinese state media has quoted analysts as saying the carrier is likely to be ready to be combat ready two years after its expected delivery to the navy at the end of this year.

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