Published: Thu, May 11, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

China launches aircraft carrier, boosting military presence

China launches aircraft carrier, boosting military presence

Putting the carrier into water marks progress in China's efforts to design and build a domestic aircraft carrier.

Construction on China's first domestically produced aircraft carrier began in November of 2013.

The 50,000-ton carrier left its berth this morning in the northern port city of Dalian, where its predecessor, the Ukrainian-built Liaoning, also underwent extensive refurbishing before being commissioned in 2012, the Chinese ministry of national defense said.

That's the kind of power that China wants - and that's why we haven't seen the last Chinese aircraft carrier rolling off the production line in the Dalian shipyard.

The new conventionally powered carrier will be able to operate China's Shenyang J-15 fighter jets.

China claims nearly 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.

The unveiling ceremony was presided over by the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, Fan Changlong.

The hull of the new carrier has been completed and its power supply put into place.

India's carriers - the Vikramaditya now in service and the upcoming Vikrant - weigh around 40,000 tonnes and can deploy 30 aircraft, while the largest and most capable "aviation-capable" vessel of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force is the Izumo-class 27,000-tonne "helicopter destroyer" that carries less than a dozen helicopters. It will look more like a United States carrier than a Russian one as it will have no ski ramp, using catapult technology instead.

In the past few decades, India and China have taken different paths in terms of aircraft carriers, but the different results achieved by the two countries point to the underlying importance of economic development.

China's aircraft carrier programme is a state secret, but it's hard to imagine this country being satisfied with two of them.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, despite objections from the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.

The photos and report indicate the ship has a ski jump and angled flight deck to allow aircraft to take off quickly, and a Chinese report claimed the ship's hangars were reworked to allow for added storage, potentially as many as 28 to 36 total aircraft.

The new carrier still has a way to go before it's operational.

"New Delhi is perhaps too impatient to develop an aircraft carrier".

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