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China’s New Carrier to Begin New Round of Sea Trials This Week

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Asia Defense

China’s New Carrier to Begin New Round of Sea Trials This Week

The Chinese Navy’s latest flattop is expected to commence a four-day sea trial this Thursday.

China’s New Carrier to Begin New Round of Sea Trials This Week
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/GG001213

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) first domestically designed and built aircraft carrier, the Type 002 (CV-17), which has yet to be named, is expected to begin another set of sea trials this Thursday, according to media reports.

The South China Morning Post cites a statement by the Liaoning Maritime Safety Administration saying that a naval exercise would take place in a designated zone in the north of the Yellow Sea between August 1 and 5. Given the proximity of the sealed off zone to the home base of the new carrier at the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC) shipyard in the port of Dalian in China’s Liaoning province, naval analysts assume that it is indicative of a new round of sea trials that will likely test the carrier’s propulsion system and electronic communication systems, next to others.

It is assumed that the sea trials will be conducted by PLAN officers.

This would officially mark the seventh round of such trials for the Type 002 ship. The carrier, launched from Dalian shipyard in 2017, took to the open sea for the first time in May 2018. This year also marked the beginning of air trials aboard the ship with Shenyang J-15 multirole fighter jets. The carrier is expected to be commissioned before the end of the year. Once commissioned, the flattop will likely serve in the PLAN’s North Sea Fleet or East Sea Fleet. As I wrote in 2018, the PLAN’s first domestically built carrier is a derivative of Soviet Navy carrier designs:

The 65,ooo-ton Type [002] carrier was launched at the DSIC shipyard in April 2017. The warship is an improved variant of the PLAN’s only operational aircraft carrier, the 60,000-ton Type 001 Liaoning — a retrofitted Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class multi-role aircraft carrier. (…)

The [yet-to-be-named carrier] has been fitted with a so-called ski-jump assisted Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) launch system also installed aboard the Liaoning. STOBAR-launched aircraft have a more limited operational range and carry lighter payloads than fighter jets launched from so-called Catapult-Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) systems used on U.S. Navy carriers. (STOBAR systems put a lot of strain on the airframe of fighter jets during take-off.)

The [future carrier] will be able to carry up to [32] Shenyang J-15 multirole fighter jets and a variant of the fourth-generation Sukhoi Su-33 twin-engines air superiority fighter, as well as around ten rotary wing aircraft including Changshe Z-18, Ka-31, or Harbin Z-9 helicopters.

The Liaoning underwent a total of ten sea trials before being commissioned in 2012. The carrier also participated in the PLAN 70th anniversary naval review in April.

The Diplomat’s Rick Joe recently provided a good overview of the likely future trajectory the PLAN’s carrier building program.