China’s first domestically aircraft carrier to start its first sea trials in autumn, as Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Corp (DSIC) of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) announced that it will present key achievements as a tribute to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The manufacturer of the Type 001A aircraft carrier, posted details of a meeting on its website on August 18. Although the website didn’t mention the aircraft carrier, the photo shows that the meeting is of “the Party Committee Working Conference of 002 Aircraft Carrier” (002 is the code of the project).
The Type 001A is located in the DSIC’s shipyard in Liaoning Province. The 001A will represent an iterative improvement on the Liaoning. With a displacement of 70,000 tonnes, the carrier is slightly heavier, with a similar length and width. Like the Liaoning, the Type 001A will incorporate a ski-jump launch system for aircraft and will not feature an advanced catapult-assisted launch system. As with the Liaoning, the airwing of the 001A will comprise up to 36 Shenyang J-15 multirole fighters.
Chinese Shenyang J-15 fighters have been observed undergoing testing for catapult-assisted take-off suggesting that future Chinese carriers may incorporate this technology. China may look to build as many as six aircraft carriers. The Liaoning and the Type 001A may serve primarily as more rudimentary training platforms for Chinese naval aviators and sailors to accrue carrier experience.
A growing fleet of aircraft carriers will gradually allow the PLAN to reliably project power beyond the first island chain and into the Western Pacific. In December 2016, the Liaoning, accompanied by five other vessels, navigated multiple first island chain choke points, including the Bashi Channel and the Miyako Strait. The carrier strike group entered the Western Pacific for the first time and sailed south to the South China Sea.
The “special time” refers to the 19th CPC National Congress, which marks the opening of a new phase of China’s reforms. And the enhancement of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) navy’s combat capabilities is an important part of the country’s military reforms, Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Chinese experts believe the project’s next achievement will most likely be the sea trials phase.
The Type 001A can start its sea trials before the event, which is the last stage prior to turning the warship over to the navy, it would mark a huge step forward in China’s development of a stronger navy. China has successfully tested the Type 001A’s power system and the carrier will undergo a mooring test in September ahead of schedule, meaning that the ship’s power system is all set, and Zhang said he believed part of the mooring test has already started even during the power test, so the mooring test period could be shorter than expected.