China's first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, docks at the shipyard of Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co Ltd in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province on Monday. Photo: IC
A full year has passed since China's second aircraft carrier, or the first domestically made, the Type 001A, conducted its first sea trial, leading analysts to suggest the ship might soon officially join the country's naval service.
Their prediction is based on the experience of the country's first carrier, the Liaoning, which took a little more than a year from its maiden voyage to enlist in the PLA Navy.
As of Monday, lane markings have been painted on the Type 001A's flight deck. It also conducted a replenishment drill within the shipyard with the supply ship Hulunhu in late April, news website wenweipo.com reported on Monday.
The first domestically developed carrier undertook its first sea trial on May 13, 2018. Four others have been conducted over the past year.
The sea trials successfully tested the warship's propulsion system, combat and supply capabilities, China Central Television reported in April.
Chinese military enthusiasts had hoped the second carrier would make it to a maritime parade on April 23 to celebrate the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's 70th anniversary in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province. However, it remained in its shipyard in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province where it continued to be painted.
The interval between the Liaoning's first sea trial and its commissioning to the PLA Navy was a little more than a year, so analysts believe the domestically made carrier will very likely be commissioned within two months, the wenweipo.com report said.
As the commissioning of the Type 001A appears to be on track, military observers are beginning to shift their focus to China's third carrier.
The construction of the second domestically developed aircraft carrier has begun, the PLA Daily reported on April 21. The Xinhua News Agency also reported construction was underway in November 2018.
Reuters reported on May 7 that the third carrier is being constructed at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, citing recent satellite images.
Chinese military experts told the Global Times previously that the third carrier will likely be bigger than the previous two and feature a flat deck instead of jump-rack deck. It might also use new technologies including an electromagnetic catapult to launch its aircraft, they said.
The Chinese Ministry of National Defense has yet to confirm the third aircraft carrier is being built.