China launches its 1st home-built aircraft carrier

Cheryl Sanders
April 27, 2017

China launched its first domestically-built aircraft carrier, boosting its blue-water naval capabilities amidst the Communist giant flexing its muscles in the strategic South China Sea and growing regional tension over nuclear-armed North Korea.

The ceremony to launch the Type 001A carrier took place Wednesday morning, local time, at the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation's shipyard at Dalian, Liaoning province, in northern China where the ship has been under construction since 2013.

China's second aircraft carrier follows the Liaoning, a refitted Soviet Union carrier put into service in 2012.

China launched its first domestically produced aircraft carrier today.

Like the 60,000-ton Liaoning, which was purchased from Ukraine, the new carrier is based on the Soviet Kuznetsov class design, with a ski jump-style flight deck and an oil-fueled steam turbine power plant.

The main body of the carrier has been completed, with equipment of major systems including propulsion and electricity installed.

China has launched its second aircraft carrier, marking an incremental rise in its capacity to project power in the West Pacific.

The launch was attended by the vice-president of China's central military commission, Fan Changlong.

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.

In March, it announced it would increase its military budget by about 7% this year - the second year in a row that increases have been less than 10%, after almost 20 years of larger increases.

"It's probably been created to just get China in the aircraft carrier game, and while this design was just an incremental advance (on the country's first carrier), with the next carrier, which could already be under construction, it will be much closer to a United States carrier", he said. This development will also give Beijing more room to strategise and flex its muscles in the disputed islands.

Analysts inside the country have previously said China needs at least five to six aircraft carriers.

China is reportedly building its third aircraft carrier in Shanghai, which will look more like a US aircraft carrier, according to Chinese experts.

One Internet user wrote, "It's a symbol of China's technological power, industrial capability and overall strength".

Kashin estimates that the first Chinese-built Type 001A carrier, launched Wednesday, will be commissioned around the year 2020.

Up to 20 of the attack planes have been built, according to reports, and the J-15 "likely exceeds or matches the aerodynamic capabilities of virtually all fighter aircraft now operated by regional militaries, with the exception of the US F-22 Raptor", according to China Signpost.

"The reason that's important is that it's very much a second-best solution for launching aircraft off a carrier". It will have the capacity to carry 30 aircraft, including helicopters, The Times of India reported previous year.

The new carrier is certainly a step toward achieving those goals.

This photo taken on December 24, 2016 shows the Liaoning, China's only aircraft carrier, sailing during military drills in the Pacific.

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