China tests carrier of its own design

China's sole operational aircraft carrier the Liaoning is a repurposed Soviet ship bought from Ukraine

The 50,000-tonne carrier is the first to be wholly built and designed in China, and is set to become the navy's second aircraft carrier by 2020.

A third aircraft carrier is being built in Shanghai, according to state media, although the Defense Ministry has yet to confirm this.

Its design was based on China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was bought from Ukraine and refurbished. The country reportedly plans to have four aircraft carriers by 2030 to operate from the disputed South China Sea as well as the Indian Ocean.

But CNN reports the new vessel still won't be enough to rival the United States, but will boost the navy's standing in Asia.

Prof Tsang added: "But for the rest of China's neighbours, the new carrier based doctrine of the People's Liberation Army is frightening, as none of them can remotely match China's new naval capabilities".

More than 1,000 feet in length and 246 feet wide, the new ship uses conventional propulsion as opposed to nuclear and recent analysis of satellite images suggests modifications have been made to hold up to eight additional aircraft.

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Construction of the unnamed carrier was completed in April a year ago. STOBAR-launched aircraft have a more limited operational range and carry lighter payloads than fighter jets launched from so-called Catapult-Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) systems used on U.S. Navy carriers.

Local media say the Chinese-built carrier may be handed over to the military as early as in the latter half of this year.

The second aircraft carriers name and hull code remain unknown as the PLA Navy usually makes public such information when a ship is commissioned. The ship's chief engineering commander, Hu Wenming, told the broadcaster the carrier was smaller than USA carriers' Nimitz class.

The CNN report also pointed out that the vessel passing its sea trials, does not necessarily mean it is combat-ready.

Nevertheless, Beijing has actually started a comprehensive job to develop a "blue water" navy and modernise its 2 million-strong military, the world's biggest.

Last week USA intelligence suggested there is a high probability that the Chinese fired missiles to three artificial islands in military drills.

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