China launches first home-grown aircraft carrier

Lauren Perry
April 27, 2017

China has launched its second aircraft carrier in Dalian Shipyard yesterday morning in Liaoning province in northeastern China, according to a Xinhua news. The first was the Liaoning, which was made in the erstwhile Soviet Union and was extensively refurbished before being commissioned in the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA)-Navy in 2012.

That will leave China well short of being able to challenge the United States which operates 10 carriers and plans to build two more, and has decades of experience operating them.

Other ships built or under construction include a new type of supply vessel, as well as four cruisers suited for escorting a carrier, Mr Erickson said.

China has launched its first indigenously built aircraft, which military experts say will give the country greater control over the worldwide waters as well as boost defenses across its coastline.

It said the carrier would undergo more testing and fitting of equipment before trials in the water.

Fan Changlong, Vice-Chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), chaired the launch ceremony.

China's carriers are no match for US carriers, but they offer China the kind of power projection capabilities that its neighbors in Asia lack.

When commissioned, the new carrier will be more dedicated to military and humanitarian operations, while the Liaoning will be used mainly for training. The ship was originally laid down as a Soviet multirole aircraft carrier under the name Riga and then Varyag. He says the new carrier's ability to carry more fuel should give it a wider range. Ukraine sold the unfinished ship in 1998 to Chinese middlemen "pretending to have no connection to the navy", according to one China military analyst in Washington. Earlier reports also suggested that the ship's hangars were built large enough to accommodate between 28 to 36 aircraft onboard.

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Unless seriously revised, China's plans for its future carrier force could become a major financial difficulty for the country.

File: China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

China has launched its second aircraft carrier bringing its navy to the same level as that of India, which has two aircraft carriers.

James Char, China military analyst at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the new vessel will serve as more of a "status symbol" for China in the East and South China seas, where the Liaoning conducted its first live fire drill in December.

In order to achieve that, China would need to build a total of five to six aircraft carriers in the next 15 to 20 years, Zhao Chu, director of the Shanghai Institute for National Defense Strategy, told dpa.

The US has previously said it would shift 60 per cent of American naval assets to the Asia-Pacific region by 2020 under the Obama administration's pivot to Asia policy.

China's neighbors including India and Japan would be watching the evolving situation very carefully, experts said.

Bedecked with colorful giant streamers and fluttering red flags, China launched its first homemade aircraft carrier Wednesday in a ceremony shown nationwide.

Other reports by VgToday

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