First made-in-China carrier launched

Red flags line the flight deck of China's first locally-built aircraft carrier, which is expected to be launched soon.
Red flags line the flight deck of China's first locally-built aircraft carrier, which is expected to be launched soon.PHOTO: WEIBO ACCOUNT OF GLOBAL TIMES

HONG KONG • The scaffolding around China's first locally-built aircraft carrier has been removed. Red flags now line its flight deck, according to latest images shared by state media.

Earlier reports said the ship, temporarily known as Type 001A, was to be launched on Monday to mark the 68th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese navy. But the launch did not happen because the tidal conditions were not conducive, said some experts.

A ceremony is expected to take place in the next few days.

Enthusiasts have flocked to the pier in Dalian, Liaoning province, and shared pictures of the new carrier online, reported South China Morning Post (SCMP). Some pictures show naval officers rehearsing for the launch ceremony.

Media reports have said President Xi Jinping, who also chairs the powerful Central Military Commission, may attend the event.

The new carrier is 315m long, 75m wide and has a cruising speed of 31 knots. It is slightly larger than the Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier, which was refurbished from the semi-completed Soviet carrier Varyag.

Even though its layout is similar to that of Liaoning, the new carrier features the latest equipment, including a bigger hangar to accommodate more J-15 fighters as well as more space on deck for helicopters and other aircraft.

Local media has speculated that the country's second carrier may be called the Shandong because it will be docked at the Qingdao carrier base in Shandong province.

It is expected to enter full service around 2020.

With the launch of the new carrier, China will become the seventh country with the capability to build its own aircraft carriers.

Work on its third carrier, dubbed Type 002, is under way in Shanghai, reported SCMP.

Hong Kong-based military expert Liang Guoliang said China plans to produce two Type 002 carriers, each with a displacement of 85,000 tons, which would make them the biggest Chinese carriers. The Liaoning is about 55,000 tons, while the Type 001A will be 70,000 tons.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2017, with the headline 'First China-made carrier ready for launch'. Print Edition | Subscribe