China launches first aircraft carrier - New York News

China launches first aircraft carrier

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Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning cruises for a test on the sea. China formally entered its first aircraft carrier into service on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Tang) Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning cruises for a test on the sea. China formally entered its first aircraft carrier into service on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Tang)
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China has formally entered its first aircraft carrier into service.

The ship was launched with great fanfare on Tuesday.

"The smooth commissioning of the first aircraft carrier has important and profound meaning for modernizing our navy and for enhancing national defensive power and the country's overall strength," Xinhua news agency cited Wen as saying at the commissioning ceremony in the northern port of Dalian.

The 300 meter ship can carry about 50 aircraft.

The carrier was christened the Liaoning after China's northeastern province.

It is at least several years away from minimal combat readiness, military experts say. In particular, Chinese fighter pilots are still learning skills needed for taking off and landing on a moving deck.

Diplomats say China has yet to land a plane on the vessel.

While the ship is new to China, it's had a long past.

The ship was built in the Soviet Union in the 1980s and was originally known as the Varyag.  The body of the ship was bought by China in 1998.  It added its own engine, electronics and propeller.

The aircraft carrier was launched as China continues a tense territorial dispute with Japan.

The ship is expected to have a limited role as China works to launch its own home-built carriers around 2016.

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