China launches first domestically built aircraft carrier

China launches its first homegrown aircraft carrier

The new carrier, the first developed and built by China, was transferred from a dry dock into water at a launch ceremony starting at about 9 a.m.in the Dalian shipyard of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation. It was towed from its dockyard at 9AM yesterday, after being officially unveiled for the first time in Dalian, a northern port city.

China first announced the construction of its new carrier in late December 2015.

Even after building its second carrier, analysts estimate that China only has 4% of America's naval capacity, meaning that it likely won't challenge the US Navy for dominance in the region anytime soon.

Recently state-run People's Daily quoted military experts as saying that the third aircraft carrier to be built in Shanghai may be nuclear powered. After sea trials and the arrival of its full air complement, the yet-to-be-named carrier is expected to be operational by 2020.

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

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At present, the main hull of this aircraft carrier has been completed and the main system devices including power supply have been installed in place.

But the government has said the new carrier's design draws on experiences from its first carrier, the Liaoning, bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China. This year, however, Liaoning has been involved in conducting take-off and landing drills in the controversial South China Sea. After years of refurbishing and outfitting, it was finally put into service in 2012.

Little is known about China's aircraft carrier programme, which is a state secret.

Its launch follows China's celebration on Sunday of the 68th birthday of the founding of the Chinese navy and it comes amid rising tensions over North Korea and worries about Beijing's assertiveness in the South China Sea.

- Not only does the USA have the largest military in the world, but its navy also has over 75 years' worth of carrier aviation experience.

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As NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing, the new carrier's launch is being greeted as a milestone for China and its military.

Photos of the new vessel indicate that the ship has a ski jump and angled flight deck.

Initial news reports did not give the carrier's name. "The Americans use what's called a catapult, which slings aircraft off at much higher speeds".

China has been rapidly modernising its navy at a time when it is engaged in disputes with several countries in the South China Sea.

According to Yvonne Chiu, an assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong, China's navy is trying to enhance its ability to operate globally across open oceans.

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