Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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China's Homegrown Aircraft Carrier Shandong Nears Completion

China's second Type-001A aircraft carrier, named Shandong, is planned to be launch in the coming weeks.

(Photo : YouTube) China's second Type-001A aircraft carrier, named Shandong, is planned to be launch in the coming weeks.

China's very first home-grown aircraft carrier Shandong is expected to be launched in the next few weeks, China's Ministry of Defense revealed on Tuesday.

The scaffold of the aircraft carrier has already been removed, while the red undercoat has also been painted below Shandong's waterline. The new aircraft carrier is an improved variant of the country's only operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which is a rebuilt of the Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class multirole aircraft carrier.

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The new Type 001A aircraft carrier has a displacement of 65,000 tons, while Liaoning has 60,000 tons. It will be powered by oil-fired broilers and steam turbines with an anticipated operational range of 3,850 nautical miles (or 7,130 kilometers) at 32 knots. Shandong could host 24 Shenyang J-15 multirole fighter jets and 10 rotary wing aircraft like the Changshe Z-18, Ka-31, and Harbin Z-9 helicopters.

But more notably, the new aircraft carrier will be more 'humanized' as spaces for crews are improved. "All personnel on the carrier will enjoy a more comfortable and modern environment," Song Zhongping, a military expert, told the Global Times.

After the launch, Shandong will still undergo some outfitting with all its mission systems including radars, communication gears, among others. The new aircraft carrier is expected to begin its service in 2019, joining either the North Sea Fleet or East Sea Fleet of China's People's Liberation Army Navy's.

Meanwhile, just like its 'sister' Liaoning, Shandong will still feature a Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) launch system instead of the advanced catapult technology used by US aircraft carriers. Thereafter, China will finally ditch the ski-jump and develop a new carrier equipped with steam catapults. The upcoming Type-002 will soon look more like a US aircraft carrier instead of a Russian one, naval expert Li Jie said.

While China is still currently building its third aircraft carrier, it already has plans to add more. "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," Yin Zhuo, senior research of the PLA Navy Equipment Research Center, said.

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