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Iran Press TV

China's first domestically-built aircraft carrier ready for launch: Sources

Iran Press TV

Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:18PM

Reports say Beijing is set to launch its first domestically- built aircraft carrier after more than two years, as the country is beefing up its military in the face of growing tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

Military sources in China said on Monday that the home-made aircraft carrier, known as the Type 001A, was sitting at the Dalian shipyard in China's Liaoning Province and could hit the water "as early as this week."

Local media also announced that People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy was making "final preparations" to launch the carrier as "the scaffolding around the ship was removed and the deck was cleared."

South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based news agency, said China's new aircraft carrier was 70,000 tones in weight, 315 meters long, 75 meters wide and had a cruising speed of 31 knots.

"It is slightly larger than the Liaoning, China's first aircraft ­carrier, which was refurbished from the semi-completed Soviet carrier Varyag, which Beijing bought from a Ukrainian shipyard in 1998," the agency said.

The new carrier has a larger hangar to carry more J-15 fighters and more space on deck for helicopters and other aircraft, according to reports.

The vessel is expected to go into commission around 2020, after being outfitted with military equipment and conducting operational tests.

Beijing claims almost all the disputed waters of the South China Sea, through which around $5 trillion of global sea-borne trade passes each year. China's growing military presence there has fueled concern in Japan and the United States.

Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim parts of the sea that has rich fishing grounds, oil and gas deposits. Japan has no claims there, but is locked in another territorial dispute with China over a group of islets in the neighboring East China Sea.

The US has taken sides with China's rivals in regional territorial disputes. Beijing says Washington is deliberately escalating the situation in the region and has denounced US frequent patrols in contested waters as "illegal" and "provocative."

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