China Launches First Domestically-Built Carrier

Cheryl Sanders
May 3, 2017

China today launched its first indigeneously-built aircraft carrier which will join an existing one bought from Ukraine, boosting its military capabilities amid worries about Beijing's assertiveness in the South China Sea. According to the Associated Press, it will be formally commissioned "sometime before 2020, after sea trials and the arrival of its full air complement".

Unlike the USA navy's longer-range nuclear carriers, both of China's feature Soviet-design so-called ski-jump bows, meant to give fighter jets enough lift to take off from shorter decks. The Type 002 is expected to launch in 2021 and will be operational around 2024.

The launch had been well-flagged as foreign military analysts and Chinese media have for months published satellite images, photographs and news stories about the second carrier's development. In contrast, the keel of India's Vikrant (named after India's first aircraft carrier), was laid in February 2009, and though she was sailed out for the first time in in 2011, completion of the project may not take place before 2023 according to report from the national auditor previous year.

India's carriers - the Vikramaditya now in service and the upcoming Vikrant - weigh around 40,000 tonnes and can deploy 30 aircraft, while the largest and most capable "aviation-capable" vessel of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force is the Izumo-class 27,000-tonne "helicopter destroyer" that carries less than a dozen helicopters.

The launch "shows our country's indigenous aircraft carrier design and construction has achieved major step-by-step results", Xinhua news agency said.

However, military experts warned that China should be "mindful" of the US' 100,000-tonne nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is twice the size of Shandong. This would be lower than the number that the United States has which is acceptable since China does not have the need for many carriers because it does not have global responsibilities and obligations like the world's sole superpower. However, military experts said that China's aircraft carrier will operate Shenyang J-15 fighter jets, which is also manufactured indigenously.

BEIJING (AP) - China launched its first aircraft carrier built entirely on its own on Wednesday, in a demonstration of the growing technical sophistication of its defense industries and determination to safeguard its maritime territorial claims and crucial trade routes.

It is China's second aircraft carrier, but the first one locally built. Once operational, the new carrier will likely be officially commissioned in a separate ceremony. Next, the aircraft carrier will debug its system devices and conduct fitting-out as planned, and start mooring tests in an all-round way.

The new carrier is part of an ambitious expansion of the Chinese navy, which is projected to have a total of 265-273 warships, submarines and logistics vessels by 2020, according to the Washington-based Center for Naval Analysis.

Ma Xiaoguang, a Chinese mainland spokesperson with the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said Wednesday he was proud of the great achievement made by the country in modernizing the national defense and military.

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