CHINA'S first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier started sea trials on Sunday, state media said, a landmark in Beijing's ambitious plans to modernise its navy as the Asian giant presses its claims in disputed regional waters.
Speaking to CNN of this morning's sea trials, Sam Roggeveen, senior fellow at Sydney's Lowy Institute said: "This is, in and of itself, not created to be some frontal challenge to USA power in the Asia Pacific, because it simply isn't in the class of America's aircraft carriers".
The new carrier will be capable of transporting about 40 aircraft, and is reportedly modeled on the first, and now only Chinese aircraft carrier in active service, the Liaoning, a re-purposed Soviet aircraft carrier, put into service in 2012.
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.
Xinhua news agency released a photograph of the ship a short distance from port, and stated that the seat trials will test the "stability and reliability" of the carrier's power system and equipment.
The Shandong's sea trials mark a major milestone in China's blue water navy ambitions and its quest to built a maritime force capable of operating globally. The new Chinese carrier can neither sale for longer without refueling than the above mentioned US carriers, nor can it carry as many planes.
The length of the aircraft carrier is 315 meters, beam - 75 meters, displacement - 50 thousand metric tons (70 thousand when fully loaded), operating speed - 31 nautical knots. The US has 11 carriers, all nuclear-powered.
Little is known about China's aircraft program which is a state secret, according to the news wire. Chinese media reported that up to 36 Shenyang J-15 fighters can be based aboard. The ship also will carry several types of helicopters.
On the background of strengthening the position of the Chinese Navy, Japan is studying the possibility of construction of the first since the Second world war aircraft carrier.
Note that the report from national television channel CCTV-13 revealed the name of the commanding officer of the new aircraft carrier: Rear Admiral LAI Yi Jun (来 奕 军), former commander of the 8th Frigate Flotilla and captain of the 522 Lianyungang frigate (Type 053H3).
The vessel has more than 3,600 cabins.
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