China's first indigenously built aircraft carrier began inaugural sea trials on Sunday, in a display of the Asian giant's growing technological prowess and as it seeks to expand the reach of its navy further into the Pacific.
China's sole operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is a repurposed Soviet ship bought from Ukraine, which went into service in 2012.
Some Chinese media reports, however, said that the new carrier is created to be able to carry 36 aircraft - 12 more than the Liaoning that has been in service since 2012.
The new aircraft carrier, temporarily named Type 001A, sailed out at around 7 am in Dalian, in the northeast province of Liaoning, according to reports in Chinese state media.
Reports said China is also building its third aircraft carrier in Shanghai. Beijing has also been beefing up its presence in the disputed South China Sea, where it has disputes with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan.More news: Heavy showers, thunderstorms expected Saturday
The carrier was launched - moved into the water - in April past year, the China Daily reported.
The new aircraft carrier has an inclined ramp and can accommodate more aircraft than its predecessor.
The length of the aircraft carrier is 315 meters, beam - 75 meters, displacement - 50 thousand metric tons (70 thousand when fully loaded), operating speed - 31 nautical knots. This new steam propulsion system has been fitted on Type 002. Chinese experts have said that the missions for the new carrier will be different from those for the Liaoning, which is mainly tasked with testing equipment and weapons as well as training personnel. The second Chinese aircraft carrier should therefore still carry 36 aircraft, including 24 J-15 fighters.
On the background of strengthening the position of the Chinese Navy, Japan is studying the possibility of construction of the first since the Second world war aircraft carrier. Little is known about this new commander but unofficial sources indicate that LAI is "very intelligent" and has a "very good level in English". About 3,000 workers from across the country worked on the ship on a daily basis.
The PLA Navy has not officially announced a commissioning date yet for the carrier, although there is some speculation that it will take place in the last quarter of 2018. For example, the new ship's island is shorter and the landing section is longer.