China’s first aircraft carrier, Varyag, an upgraded version of a partially built vessel purchased from Ukraine in 1998, is currently undergoing sea trials.

The US Department of Defense said the ship was expected to be relaunched as a platform for training pilots.

The upgrades were provided to the vessel’s living and working compartments, engines, navigation systems, power-generating equipment, elevator and flight deck.

The Varyag is a ski jump-style carrier with a displacement capacity of 55,000t, around half that of the Japan-based US carrier George Washington, which has a displacement of 100,000t.

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China has bought Russian SU-33 carrier-based fighters and has modified domestic J-11 jets for carrier landings and take-offs.