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China’s second aircraft carrier begins sea trials

14 May 2018
China's first locally built aircraft carrier began sea trials on 13 May. Source: AFP/Getty Images

China’s second aircraft carrier sailed from the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (DSIC) shipyard on 13 May to commence initial sea trials, according to Chinese state media, a move which comes just one year and two weeks after the ship was launched.

The ship, which has yet to be given a pennant number and name, is the first aircraft carrier to be wholly constructed in China and has been built to the same basic design as China’s first carrier, Liaoning , which was laid down as the Soviet Navy’s Kuznetsov-class carrier, Varyag .

The ship is configured for short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) aircraft operations using a ski-jump, and will operate the J-15 (‘Flanker’ derivative) fixed-wing aircraft built by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation.

All of the equipment on board the new carrier is likely to have been manufactured in China and the construction of such a large and complex warship is a significant milestone not only for China's People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), but also for the country's shipbuilding industry.

A number of external changes are evident in the new carrier, most obviously around the island structure. The ship’s Type 346 phased-array radar, which is similar to the upgraded version fitted onto the latest PLAN destroyers, has had its array panels repositioned higher and at the corners of the superstructure. A second bridge-type arrangement has been added one deck above the first and the island structure is slightly shorter than that on Liaoning .

It is likely that significant improvements have also been made internally, and photographs show that the four air weapon hoists that emerge between the forward blast deflectors on Liaoning ’s flight deck have been replaced on the new carrier with a single larger hoist.

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