China is a global force. Their manufacturing capabilities are legendary. It may come as a surprise to many that an aircraft carrier launched this week is the first the nation has ever built. The new ship yet to be named, and it will be a couple of years before it is fully operational, but it is officially afloat.

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China’s only other carrier was made by the soviet union. Many of the features of this new carrier are based off of that 1st, but the whole ship has been modernized significantly.

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The new ship  is currently being referred to by its model designation: Type 001A. The deck on this new carrier is larger than that on the Liaoning, their other carrier. And this ship boasts a much improved S-band radar system.

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Business Insider, reporting on the new carrier, writes that these types of carriers have a different purpose that those of other countries. “The Soviet style of carrier [pictured above], which Russia and China still use, has a different purpose than the US’s flattop carriers. Instead of being a truly global strike carrier, these carriers make more sense for coastal defense.”

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One main difference is the ski-jump style deck. Carriers without catapults rely on the jump to provide their planes the extra lift needed to get in the air. As gravity is the enemy, planes launching from these carriers have significant weight restrictions.

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Other regional powers also have carriers. Russia is still sailing one. India has two carriers and they’re build a third. Japan’s navy operates heavily armed helicopter carriers.

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The other dominant Pacific powerhouse is, of course, the United States. Our nuclear fleet of carriers have vastly superior range, and are accompanied by a fleet of support ships. Their size makes flying many different types of planes and helicopters reliably easy.