China has produced its first domestically-built aircraft carrier, which already began its sea trials on 13 May, Sunday. According to news reports, this is widely seen as a historic step in the country’s mission to build a navy with the capacity of rivaling the world’s leading maritime powers.
Given the temporary name of ‘Type 001A’, the new aircraft carrier sailed out to the ocean from the northeast Dalian province of Liaoning. China’s second aircraft carrier, and the first to be wholly designed and built in China; the 50-thousand-tonne ship will join the Chinese Navy before 2020. The country’s first carrier, the Liaoning, which is a retrofitted Soviet-era vessel bought from the Ukraine, was commissioned in 2012.
On the other hand, experts comment that; while the new aircraft carrier will boost China’s military power in the Asia region dramatically, its technology is still outdated and lagged far behind the world’s naval superpower, the United States. “This is, in and of itself, not designed to be some frontal challenge to US power in the Asia Pacific, because it simply isn’t in the class of America’s aircraft carriers,” is what Sam Roggeveen, senior fellow at Sydney’s Lowy Institute, told to CNN on the vessel.
Compared to The Liaoning; China’s second aircraft carrier will be more modernized, with a design that’s bigger and heavier to allow it to carry more planes on it. The basic design for the new aircraft carrier is clearly modeled heavily on the Liaoning, including the signature ski-jump inclination at the front from which aircraft lift off.
State media reports show that the ship is approx 315 meters long, and 75 meters wide. It uses conventional propulsion rather than nuclear, and is assumed to displace 50 thousand tonnes.
As of this year, the United States Navy fields 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, more than any other nation in the world.