China is conducting trials of an aircraft carrier of its own design
14 May, 2018, 06:10 | Author: Sheila Harris
The carrier set out from Dalian in northeast Liaoning province, according to China's state-run news agency, Xinhua. Both feature Soviet-design ski-jump bows rather than the catapult technology used for launching aircraft on US aircraft carriers.
Although China's 2-million strong military is the largest in the world and its navy is also the biggest in terms of numbers of ships, its defense budget in 2018, though raised, is still only about one-quarter that of the United States.
The CNN report also pointed out that the vessel passing its sea trials, does not necessarily mean it is combat-ready.
Chinese state media have been speculating that a third aircraft carrier is in the works, but the defence ministry has yet to confirm this.
The warship is an upgrade to the 'Liaoning, ' China's only operational aircraft carrier, which is a retrofitted Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class multi-role vessel.
The US's 11 vessels are nuclear powered and have far superior technology, including catapult systems for launching aircraft.
China may still be a long way from presenting a global challenge to the US Navy, but as a regional power its military program is moving fast.
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The ship is expected to join the Chinese navy as early as the end of this year.
In Hong Kong media claimed that the Chinese Navy past year began construction of a third aircraft carrier, equipped with modern catapult for faster take-off aircraft on the basis of the electromagnetic system.
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.
"If you look at China's acquisitions of facilities in the Indian Ocean and in Eastern Africa, they're quickly developing the capability to maintain a naval presence in distant waters", Ross said.
The Liaoning, which appears to serve as a training vessel as much as a combat ship, was the centerpiece of a naval parade of 48 ships attended last month by China's leader, Xi Jinping.
Last week U.S. intelligence suggested there is a high probability that the Chinese fired missiles to three artificial islands in military drills.
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