Chinas first indigenously-developed aircraft carrier began sea trials today, official media reported, a historic step in the countrys quest to modernise its military and bolster its naval presence in the disputed regional waters.
The Navy said in a statement that the trial aims to demonstrate the reliability and capability of the ships propulsion systems.
Last month, the local maritime authority announced that it had requested three areas in the northeastern Bohai and Yellow Seas to be cordoned off for PLA Navy activities for eight days raising expectations that the Type 001A was going to set out for its maiden voyage that month.
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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.
The vessel will become the countrys second aircraft carrier, and the first to be entirely built and designed inside of China, when it joins the navy sometime before 2020.
The ownership of a homegrown carrier locations China amongst the few military powers with such vessels, consisting of the United States, Russia and Britain.
The Type 001A provider will displace 55,000 tonnes and utilize traditional propulsion, inning accordance with the defence ministry. First aircraft carrier - the Liaoning was bought from Ukraine, completed and modernized.
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Construction on the Type 001A, the largest and most sophisticated naval vessel in China, began in November 2013 and work in the dry dock started in March 2015.
Construction on the latest carrier has been carried out as planned since it was launched in April past year, and equipment debugging, outfitting and mooring tests have been completed to make it ready for the trial mission at sea, the Xinhua reported.
This gives them an advantage over the Chinese planes, which rely on their own power and the ski-jump designs on both carriers. However, a source close to the navy said it was "too early to estimate" when the new ship would be combat-ready.
In fact, the USS Gerald R Ford, the United States' newest carrier and at $13 billion, the most expensive warship ever built, has a host of problems.
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Video footage aired by CCTV revealed the enforcing ship accompanied by a number of smaller sized military craft leaving a wharf and going out to sea under grey skies.