China's aircraft carrier begins sea trials


BEIJING-China's first domestically produced aircraft carrier began sea trials Sunday, the latest step forward in the country's quest to advance its military footprint.

China's sole functional carrier, the Liaoning, is a repurposed Soviet ship purchased from Ukraine, which entered into service in 2012.

Construction of the unnamed carrier was completed in April previous year.

The 50,000-ton carrier will likely be formally commissioned sometime before 2020 following the completion of sea trials and the arrival of its full air complement.

The news of the carrier's first trip away from port comes on the heels of another significant accomplishment of China's military modernization program; the successful flight tests of China's J-20 stealth fighter jets, reported on Thursday May, 10.

The conventional-fuel-powered vessel is about 300 meters long. Like the older ship, it can carry some 40 planes.

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Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the creation of a "first-class navy" at a major naval review held in the South China Sea.

The ownership of a homegrown carrier locations China amongst the few military powers with such vessels, consisting of the United States, Russia and Britain.

Alluding to recent Chinese shows of force toward Taiwan, Michael Kovrig, senior adviser for North East Asia at the International Crisis Group, poured more insight on the development saying: "It's raising the cost of an intervention, particularly by the US, in any conflict off China's coast".

The CNN report also pointed out that the vessel passing its sea trials, does not necessarily mean it is combat-ready.

Some Chinese media reports, however, said that the new carrier is created to be able to carry 36 aircraft - 12 more than the Liaoning that has been in service since 2012.

The new aircraft carrier has an inclined ramp and can accommodate more aircraft than its predecessor.