China's first locally made aircraft carrier starts trials at sea

China's newly-built aircraft carrier Liaoning is transferred from dry dock into the water at a launch ceremony at a shipyard in Dalian

The yet-to-be-christened Type 001A carrier left a shipyard at the northeastern port of Dalian at 6.45am, Xinhua said, and sailed out of the port half an hour later.

The sea trials will test the reliability and stability of the vessel's power system and other equipment, according to sources cited by Xinhua.

The vessel has the temporary name Type 001A and set out yesterday from Dalian after President Xi Jinping announced a "world-class" navy under the Chinese Communist Party's regime.

Construction of the unnamed carrier was completed in April a year ago.

Sam Roggeveen, senior fellow at Sydney's Lowy Institute, said: 'This is, in and of itself, not created to be some frontal challenge to United States power in the Asia Pacific, because it simply isn't in the class of America's aircraft carriers'. STOBAR-launched aircraft have a more limited operational range and carry lighter payloads than fighter jets launched from so-called Catapult-Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) systems used on U.S. Navy carriers.

China is making clear its intention to accelerate the building of aircraft carriers to step up maritime activities. The country reportedly plans to have four aircraft carriers by 2030 to operate from the disputed South China Sea as well as the Indian Ocean.

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China launched the new aircraft after it commissioned the first carrier the Liaoning, a refitted Soviet Union-made vessel in 2012.

Some reports said China is also planning to build a nuclear aircraft carrier.

This gives them an advantage over the Chinese planes, which rely on their own power and the ski-jump designs on both carriers.

China has been steadily increasing investment to modernize its military forces, investing approximately US$ 175 billion in 2018, an 8.1 percent increase over 2017.

Chinese state media has quoted analysts as saying the carrier is likely to be ready to be combat ready two years after its expected delivery to the navy at the end of this year.

The new aircraft carrier weighs 50,000 tonnes and analysis of recent satellite images suggest that modifications have been made for the ship to transport an additional eight aircraft.

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