China has completed the outfitting on its first domestically designed and built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A (CV-17) (likely to be named Shandong), on Thursday, Global Times reported.
According to the report, the aircraft carrier has been moved out from the dock at the Dalian Shipyard and is ready for its second sea trial.
The carrier’s first sea trial was successfully conducted from May 13 to 18 in the northeastern part of the Bohai Sea, the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea and Korea Bay. During the trial, the reliability and stability of the carrier’s power system and other equipment was tested.
After a five-day sea trial, the carrier returned on May 23 to the Dalian Shipyard in northeast China’s Liaoning Province, to finish its remaining outfitting work.
“The carrier’s surface doesn’t show any big changes, and the outfitting work is primarily for inspection and maintenance. After the first sea trial, the ship’s instruments collected data and information, so its equipment must be adjusted based on the data,” Global Times quoted Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator. “The carrier can be delivered to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy as soon as possible,” he added.
Type 001A Shandong is the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s second aircraft carrier after Type 001 Liaoning, a retrofitted Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier. Its construction reportedly began in 2013.
The Shandong has been fitted with a ski-jump assisted Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) launch system also installed aboard the Liaoning. She will be able to carry up to 24 Shenyang J-15 fighter jets, a variant of the Russian Sukhoi Su-33 fighter, as well as around ten helicopters including Changshe Z-18, Ka-31, or Harbin Z-9.
The ship is expected to be commissioned into the fleet by around 2020 after the completion of the trials.
China also reportedly began construction of a third aircraft carrier, designated Type 002, at a Shanghai shipyard last year.
This carrier will be equipped with a conventionally-powered catapult assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) aircraft launch system similar to the one used on U.S. Navy supercarriers. This system will enable the carrier to launch heavier jets such as Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft and also let the fighters takeoff with full payload of weapons and fuel.