China’s first aircraft carrier that’s built domestically has just started its sea trials. The name of the ship hasn’t been confirmed, yet, but it recently sailed from the northern port of Dalian. It weighs 50,000 tons, expected to be commissioned possibly in 2020 or before that year ends. It’s now waiting for completion of the sea trials as well as the full air complement.
Steve Tsang, Director of the China Institute at the SOAS said that this was monumental for China because it shows the ambition of the government under the current president. “Aircraft carriers are for power projection and for domination, and this is just the first of several more indigenous carriers,” he added. It has striking resemblance with the Kuznetsov class, which is not really surprising because the design of the ship does take cues from that owned by the Soviet Union.
While this was the first domestically built, it wasn’t the first to be part of the Chinese Navy. The Liaoning has entered the force before, in 2012 to be exact. The older one was purchased from Ukraine, but has had several improvements after it’s brought to the country. Rumor has it, China is also reportedly planning to create another carrier. This one is likely to be nuclear-powered, which in turn affects its performance on the ocean. Compared to other countries, China’s Navy is very large. In fact, it’s considered the biggest when the number of ships is taken into account.
But in terms of technology, it still needs to keep up with the U.S. Experts suggest the new aircraft carrier won’t pose major challenges to US domination at sea. Despite being new, this carrier still can’t compete with the 11 Vessels owned by the US. The latter is way more reliable especially because it has catapult systems for launching aircraft. Besides, it’s already nuclear-powered. The good news is the Chinese military has been getting stronger ever since president Xi Jinping took power.