The new warship is an upgrade to the Liaoning, China's only operational aircraft carrier, a retrofitted Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class multi-role vessel.
A third aircraft carrier is being built in Shanghai, according to state media, although the Defense Ministry has yet to confirm this.
The new ship began in 2013.
The news of the carrier's first trip away from port comes on the heels of another significant accomplishment of China's military modernization program; the successful flight tests of China's J-20 stealth fighter jets, reported on Thursday May, 10. However, despite these efforts, they would still be no match in size or range to the nuclear-powered vessels of the United States Navy, which has 11 carriers.
The trials represent a landmark in Beijing's extensive project to modernize its navy as it continues to build up its presence in the disputed South China Sea and around Taiwan, which it sees as its own territory.
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The vessel - temporarily named Type 001A - was sent out for sea trials at 7am today as President Xi Jinping pushes ahead with modernisation in the country's Navy.
More than 1,000 feet in length and 246 feet wide, the new ship uses conventional propulsion as opposed to nuclear and recent analysis of satellite images suggests modifications have been made to hold up to eight additional aircraft.
"Aircraft carriers are for power projection and for domination, and this is just the first of several more indigenous carriers". Besides India, the US, Russia, the UK, France, Italy, Thailand and China operate a total of 18 aircraft carriers. The carrier was launched - moved into the water - in April a year ago, the China Daily reported. Like the older ship, it can carry some 40 planes.
Naval experts said the Chinese engineers and designers who built the ship had studied the most advanced military technology used by the Americans, as well as the former Soviet Union, and tried to incorporate it into the new ship to meet the practical needs of the PLA Navy. And plenty can still go wrong during the current trial, as the UK's HMS Queen Elizabeth proved a year ago when a leak left it in need of fix.