China launches 1st domestically-made aircraft carrier

INS Virat that was commissioned in 1987 has just been decommissioned this month after an eventful four decades of service

According to previous reports, the new ship may be named Shandong or be referred to as CV-17.

Though the aircraft carrier program of China is a state secret, the government has previously revealed that the design of the carrier would be based on experiences the country's navy had with Liaoning, China's first carrier which was sourced in 1998 from Ukraine.

"The valuable lessons learned from building a carrier from scratch will help China build more carriers faster in the future and enable them to reach combat readiness quicker", Zhu Chenghu, a professor at China's National Defense University, said in March.

China first announced the construction of its new carrier in late December 2015.

Next, the aircraft carrier will debug its system devices and conduct fitting-out as planned, and start mooring tests in an all-round way.

A blue-water navy is a maritime force capable of operating globally across the deep waters of open oceans.

Aircraft catapults, now used on US Navy carriers, use steam pressure to launch aircraft from the carrier's flight deck. North Korea has been provoking the United States and its neighbours like South Korea and Japan by conducting nuclear and missile tests.

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Who: Vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission and Communist Party Central Committee, Fan Changlong, presided over the launch.

In March, China announced it would increase its military budget by about 7% this year - the second year in a row that increases have been less than 10%, after almost 20 years of larger increases.

The AP runs through an all-star Chinese military and political guest list for the ceremony, ominously including Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong, "a former commander of the South Sea Fleet responsible for defending China's claim to virtually the entire South China Sea". It has since taken part in live-firing exercises in the South China Sea, where tensions have risen over China's construction of man-made islands complete with airstrips and military structures.

The new ship was rolled out on the same day that the US Army began installing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system onto a golf course in Seongju, South Korea, as a response to the North Korean threat. China, a close ally of Pyongyang, has urged for calm. The carrier is expected to carry 24 Shenyang J-15 combat jets, and 12 anti-submarine warfare helicopters.

It is unclear if China will pursue this kind of development plan, but China has indicated that it wants to build a much more robust naval force to protect its expanding interests. It will look more like a U.S. carrier than a Russian one as it will have no ski ramp, using catapult technology instead.

According to Yvonne Chiu, an assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong, China's navy is trying to enhance its ability to operate globally across open oceans.

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