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China begins construction of third aircraft carrier

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The PLA Navy's first indigenously-built aircraft carrier was launched in April 2017. A Xinhua photo

BEIJING (PTI): China has started building its third aircraft carrier with a hi-tech launch system even as it is completing a new type of destroyer with modern weapons to be deployed in Indian Ocean and South China Sea, a media report said last week.

The carrier's construction has started even as another home-grown carrier is being built at a Shanghai shipyard since last year, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on January 5 quoting People's Liberation Army (PLA) officials.

China launched its first aircraft carrier in 2014 which is a refitted vessel of the hull of a former Soviet ship.

Last April, China launched its first indigenously-built aircraft carrier which is being fitted with equipment. It had already announced plans to build a third one earlier. The second aircraft carrier is expected to be launched this year.

The Shanghai shipyard is still working on the third aircraft carrier's hull, which is expected to take about two years, the Post reported.

"Building the new carrier will be more complicated and challenging than the other two ships," it quoted a PLA official as saying.

China has been trying to build up a blue-water navy giving precedence to its navy as it looks to expand its influence globally.

China has also designed an aircraft to operate from the deck of the carrier and is currently training pilots.

Sources said it is too early to say when the third vessel would be launched, but China plans to have four aircraft carrier battle groups in service by 2030, the Post report quoted naval experts as saying.

Also state-run Xinhua news agency reported that China is building a new type of destroyer for its navy equipped with modern defence, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons.

The new destroyer is expected to be in service soon and its future missions might include assignments to the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, state-run Global Times reported.

Construction of the destroyer has focused on improving the ship's fighting capability, a military representative, Leng Jun, was quoted as saying in the report.

After soliciting opinions from military officers and soldiers, designers changed the original plan for helicopters on the warship, increasing the height of the cabins to improve the passing efficiency, said a report by the PLA Daily, the official organ of the Chinese military.

A new welding technique was explored and used in building the outer hull, which was made of a new type of material, the report said.

To provide a more comfortable environment for soldiers on the ship, workers used new materials to protect against shock and noise and increased ventilation equipment in the destroyer's living cabins.

The vessel will have to undergo planned testing, including equipment operation, berthing and sailing, before it is commissioned for use, it said.

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