On December 17th, China’s first domestic-made aircraft carrier the Shandong officially entered service in the South China Sea.
The ceremony took place at a naval base in Sanya on the southern island of Hainan during a ceremony attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
This is the 2nd aircraft carrier in the Chinese Navy. China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was a refitted Soviet-era vessel which Beijing bought second hand from Ukraine in 1998.
The Shandong was launched in April 2017 and began sea trials one year later in April 2018. The carrier conducted a total of nine sea trials. During its last sea trial in November, the Shandong passed through the Taiwan Strait and entered the South China Sea.
The Liaoning, when it was commissioned back in 2012, passed ten sea trials, it was a retrofitted Admiral Kuznetsov-class heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser.
The Shandong aircraft carrier is also based on Soviet Navy carrier designs.
The ship will be able to carry 36 J-15 fighter jets compared with the Liaoning’s capacity of 24.
Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said that in total the vessel would be able to carry 40 aircraft, including Z-9 helicopters and KJ-600 early warning planes.
China's 2nd aircraft carrier, the country's first domestically built one, was named Shandong (hull 17), and was commissioned into the Chinese Navy on Tuesday. It is based in Sanya of Hainan Island, at the doorstep of the #SouthChinaSea #ChinaDefense https://t.co/pdNTxgSvsI pic.twitter.com/5yeYnpAt0F
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) December 17, 2019
First clear images of the Type 002 carrier's commissioning into PLAN service as the number '17' and named as "Shandong".
(Images via CCTV-1) pic.twitter.com/ZwckncO5W5
— @Rupprecht_A (@RupprechtDeino) December 17, 2019
The Shandong aircraft carrier has a displacement of 55,000 tons and respectively 70,000 at full load. It has a length of 315 meters, and a beam of 75 meters. It’s propulsion comes by way of conventional steam turbines, with 4 shafts, and it can travel at a speed of 31 knots.
It is armed with 3 × Type 1130 CIWS, as well as 3 × HQ-10 (18 Cell Missile system), in addition to the above-mentioned aircraft that it can carry.
Compared to the Liaoning, it carries modifications and upgrades compared to Liaoning. It has increased storage for ammunition and fuel, with a larger aircraft capacity of 44 aircraft, eight more than Liaoning.
It has a broader flight deck, while the island superstructure on Type 001A is also shorter to give more space for aircraft movements. The island also has redesigned radars and a new bridge, while the fleet command and flight control tower are on separate floors for more efficiency. It includes an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system.
The Shandong was commissioned, but it has not yet entered combat readiness, some experts estimate that it would take approximately 10 years for it to be completely prepared for combat duty.
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