China’s first home-grown aircraft carrier finishes maiden sea trial amid speculation Asia’s most advanced destroyer will be next

Tests continue PLA’s steady build-up of naval capabilities

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2018, 7:31pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 May, 2018, 12:41pm

China’s first domestically developed aircraft carrier concluded its maiden sea trial on Friday.

Footage of the vessel was released by state broadcaster China Central Television in a report that said: “Multiple types of equipment have been further tested and [the trial has] reached the anticipated goals.”

The voyage of the 65,000-tonne Type 001A also came amid rising speculations that the PLA’s Type 055 destroyer, Asia’s most advanced and biggest destroyer and the carrier’s likely escort, will soon start sea tests.

Photos shared on China’s social media show that the destroyer, which has a similar size and configuration as the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, is waiting at the shipyard of Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard Group in eastern China.

The Type 055 destroyer, which is equipped with air­ defence, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons, was believed to have been built in parallel with the Type 001A, according to military sources, as part of China’s drive to upgrade its military capabilities.

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Launched in April last year, the Type 001 carrier sailed out of the northeastern port of Dalian on Sunday.

Xinhua said that the main purpose of the trial was to test its domestically developed propulsion systems.

Engineers from the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Corporation and PLA Navy will now assess the test results of the first sea trial, said Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military expert.

The next trial would focus on a number of systems, including the ship’s electronics and radars, and would involve much more detailed tests, he said.

Tests on the new carrier will continue for the next six to 12 months in different waters and varied ocean conditions before it is delivered to the PLA navy.

“Engineers from the builder will work together with the PLA Navy for the tests until it is handed over to the PLA Navy,” Song said,

On Friday, maritime authorities in Liaoning, the province where Dalian is located, announced that access to parts of the Bohai and Yellow Sea would be restricted due to military activities until May 25 – an indication that there would be more tests on the carrier.

The conventionally powered Type 001A is China’s second aircraft carrier.

The first, the Liaoning, is a retrofitted Soviet Kuznetsov-class vessel brought from Ukraine in 1998, which entered service in 2012.

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As a part of its goal to achieve a world-class military by 2050, Beijing has steadily stepped up efforts to boost its military might. That has included building up its presence in the South China Sea in the face of protests from other countries that have overlapping claims in the region.

China is also building a third aircraft carrier that will be much more technologically advanced than the other two, including using an electromagnetic aircraft launch system that has been used on the US Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R Ford.