China's first indigenously built aircraft carrier leaves for sea trials

China's newly-built aircraft carrier Liaoning is transferred from dry dock into the water at a launch ceremony at a shipyard in Dalian

Though Liaoning has become operational, it is being mostly used for research and improvements for the new carriers China plans to build.

China is in the midst of a military modernization program heavily promoted by President Xi Jinping, who has overseen a shift in focus toward creating a more potent fighting force, including projects such as building the second carrier, integrating stealth fighters into its air force and fielding an array of advanced missiles that can strike air and sea targets from long distances.

However it would still be no match in size or variety to the nuclear-powered vessels of the United States Navy, which has 11 providers.

The new carrier's name and hull code remain unknown as the People's Liberation Army Navy usually makes public such information only once a ship is commissioned.

The ship, temporarily named Type 001A, was floated off in April 2017 after nearly 4 years of construction.

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The still-unnamed carrier was launched this time a year ago but since then has been undergoing fitting of weapons and other systems and has not yet entered service.

Its predecessor was intended more as a training base, but the new ship is likely to be deployed for combat, putting China alongside the U.S., the UK, Russia and France in its global capability.

"Aircraft carriers are for power projection and for domination, and this is just the first of several more indigenous 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.

This gives them an advantage over the Chinese planes, which rely on their own power and the ski-jump designs on both carriers.

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In the naval forces of China ship of this class will be the second in the composition.

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.

The Navy's ship complement increased from 210 to 320 between 2010 and 2017, with 2016 alone seeing an increase of 18.

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

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