China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier, transferring the ship from dry dock into the water in Dalian, the state-owned Xinhua news agency reported.
At the Dalian yard of China Shipbuilding Industry, the agency reported. The 50,000-ton carrier will be the second in China’s naval fleet, following the Liaoning — a 67,000-ton, refitted Soviet vessel put into commission in 2012
The new carrier is expected to be formally commissioned by around 2020, following sea trials. Chinese media reported the new vessel has more space for aircraft than the Liaoning — by some estimates, it will be able to accommodate 36 fighter jets, or 50% more than its predecessor.
China is constructing a third carrier in Shanghai, which the hawkish local newspaper Global Times has described as “much more advanced” than the Lioaning and the first domestic carrier. This third vessel, known as Type 002, is expected to have a catapult launch system.
The Global Times quoted a senior researcher at China’s Navy Equipment Research Center, Rear Adm. Yin Zhuo, as saying: “In order to protect China’s territories and overseas interests, China needs two carrier strike groups in the West Pacific Ocean and two in the Indian Ocean. So we need at least five to six aircraft carriers.”