It will not be long before China’s first homegrown aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, starts its sea test, at least according to online speculation, judging from the latest advancements in its construction, but experts argue that according to the rules, an official sea trial will not come soon.
Recently, photos of a radar mast being constructed on the carrier were posted online. Li Jie, an aircraft carrier expert, said the ship will be ready for a sea trial at or around the beginning of 2018, because usually it will be one year between the launch of a medium-and large-sized carrier and a sea trial. The Type 001A was launched in April.
Radar devices are important for a carrier’s ability to find its target, Li told the Global Times on Sept. 24. Therefore, the installation of radar systems is a key part in the building of an aircraft carrier.
“It is very efficient that the construction has moved forward to radar installation five months after the ship was launch. Once the radar systems are installed, which takes the longest period of time, the rest will be finished quickly,” Li noted.
The accelerated speed will enable the trial to take place ahead of schedule, Li said, adding that other systems are possibly being installed simultaneously, including navigation, communication, and power systems.
Li said the possibility of starting an earlier sea trial should not be counted out if the outfitting work and system debugging are completed ahead of schedule, but he also pointed out that an unofficial sea test could be carried out before an official one.