China Launches New Aircraft Carrier

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China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier. The carrier was released into open water from a shipyard in the port of Dalian, northeastern Liaoning province.

The carrier, which had earlier been temporarily named the Type 001A, is China’s second after the Liaoning, a refitted former Soviet Union-made carrier that was put into commission in the PLA Navy in 2012.

The carrier, 315 metres long and 75 metres wide, has a cruising speed of 31 knots and a displacement of 70,000 tonnes.

It is slightly larger than the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft ­carrier, which was refurbished from the semi-completed Soviet carrier Varyag, which Beijing bought from a Ukrainian shipyard in 1998.

China started developing the 001A in November 2013, and building it in the dock in March 2015.

Even though its layout is almost the same as the Liaoning, the carrier features new equipment and a more advanced operational concept, including a bigger hangar to carry more J-15 fighter jets and more space on deck for helicopters and other aircraft.

The 100,000-tonne nuclear-powered US carrier is almost twice the size of the Type 001A carrier. The giant ship is powered by two advanced nuclear reactors, and equipped with electromagnetic aircraft launching system, even though its recovery device was changed to cable arresting gears for safety consideration.

The conventional powered Type 001A retains the ski-jump take-off ramp of the Liaoning, and when China’s next generation aircraft carrier, the Type 002, is launched around 2021, it will not be nuclear-powered vessel with electromagnetic aircraft catapults.

The Type 002 carrier would most likely retain standard steam-driven catapults because “it’s impossible to develop a completely new generation carrier in just a few years.

China claims almost all the South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and has been building up military facilities like runways on the islands it controls. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

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