China's new aircraft carrier begins sea trials near Dalian

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

China's first domestically-built aircraft carrier set out from a dock of Dalian Shipyard, northeast China's Liaoning Province, for sea trials Sunday morning.

The 77,000-ton Type 001A carrier left a shipyard in the northeastern port of Dalian at 6:45am local time on Sunday, Xinhua reported.

One of the key differences between Liaoning and the Type 001A is that while the first carrier was meant to be used as a training asset, the new vessel can be used as a front-line combat vessel.

China only has one aircraft carrier (pictured, the ship at its 2007 launch), which is called the Liaoning.

The Type 001A provider will displace 55,000 tonnes and utilize traditional propulsion, inning accordance with the defence ministry.

The possession of a native aircraft carrier places China among the few military powers with such vessels, including the United States, Russia, Britain and India.

But it is still the United States that fields more aircraft carriers than any other country.

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The vessel will become the countrys second aircraft carrier, and the first to be entirely built and designed inside of China, when it joins the navy sometime before 2020. The country's sole operational carrier, the Kuznetsov-class Liaoning, was originally purchased incomplete from Ukraine in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse.

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.

Some reports said China is also planning to build a nuclear aircraft carrier.

The Shandong will be able to carry up to 24 Shenyang J-15 multirole fighter jets, a variant of the fourth-generation Sukhoi Su-33 twin-engines air superiority fighter, as well as around ten rotary wing aircraft including Changshe Z-18, Ka-31, or Harbin Z-9 helicopters.

The second aircraft carriers name and hull code remain unknown as the PLA Navy usually makes public such information when a ship is commissioned.

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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