China's first domestically built aircraft carrier begins maiden sea trial

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China's first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier yesterday started sea trials, state media said, a landmark in Beijing's ambitious plans to modernize its navy as it presses its claims in disputed regional waters.

The provider, understood just as "Type 001A", set out for the trials from a port in northeastern China at around 6.45 am (2245 GMT Saturday), inning accordance with state broadcaster CCTV.

The trials are believed to be for testing the engine and radar systems as well as other equipment on the conventionally powered vessel, launched in April previous year in a shipyard in Dalian.

One of the key differences between Liaoning and the Type 001A is that while the first carrier was meant to be used as a training asset, the new vessel can be used as a front-line combat vessel.

The Type 001A carrier, which has yet to be named, is expected to be commissioned by 2020.

China only has one aircraft carrier (pictured, the ship at its 2007 launch), which is called the Liaoning.

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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 new aircraft carrier has an inclined ramp and can accommodate more aircraft than its predecessor. Building commenced in November 2013. The carrier was launched - moved into the water - in April a year ago, the China Daily reported.

Since taking office, Xi has driven an ambitious effort to modernise the country's military, reducing the traditional focus on readying the ground forces of the People's Liberation Army to defend against an invasion of the mainland and increasing the emphasis on technology-dependent naval, air and missile forces.

It has finished the outfitting process, where engineers installed and fine-tuned all of the ship's interior equipment and weapons, the report said. However, a source close to the navy said it was "too early to estimate" when the new ship would be combat-ready.

The new aircraft carrier weighs 50,000 tonnes and analysis of recent satellite images suggest that modifications have been made for the ship to transport an additional eight aircraft.

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