China on Friday launched its third aircraft carrier, state media reported, in a huge military advance for the Asian superpower.
Launched in a Shanghai shipyard to great fanfare, the People's Liberation Army “Type 003” warship is the “first catapult aircraft carrier wholly designed and built by China”, reported state broadcaster CCTV.
The announcement comes as tensions between China and the United States have ramped up significantly in recent weeks over Beijing's sabre-rattling towards self-ruled Taiwan, which it views as a breakaway province to be seized by force if necessary.
China has repeatedly sailed its warships through the strait that separates the island from the mainland, and used fighter jets to repel freedom of navigation patrols from the United States and its allies.
Named the Fujian, the latest carrier is more technically advanced than the others in the fleet, and is only the second carrier fully built in China.
However, it will take years before it reaches operational capacity, as the Ministry of Defence has not announced a date for entry into service.
“Sailing and mooring tests will be carried out as planned after the ship is launched,” CCTV reported.
China has two other aircraft carriers in service.
The Liaoning was commissioned in 2012, and the Shandong entering service in 2019.
Unlike the Fujian, these warships use a ski-jump style platform for jets to take off and do not have a catapult system.
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