Sea trials pave way for China's aircraft carrier battle group: analysts

By Liu Xuanzun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/26 16:03:39

China's first domestically built aircraft carrier. Photo: VCG

China's first domestically built aircraft carrier Type 001A embarked on its second sea trial on Sunday, two days after China's first homegrown 10,000-ton class missile destroyer had its first sea trial.

Chinese experts said on Sunday the vessels will likely form an aircraft carrier battle group once they are handed over to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.

Assisted by tug boats, the aircraft carrier set out from the Dalian Shipyard in Northeast China's Liaoning Province on Sunday morning after a display of fireworks, according to videos and photos on Sina Weibo on Sunday.

"The carrier's second sea trial will focus on dealing with issues that arose during the first," Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday.

While testing the ships' power systems is the main focus, the second sea trial will involve heavier payloads and other system diagnostics including command, communication and damage management, Song said.

Zhang Ye, a research fellow at the PLA Naval Research Institute, told the Global Times on Sunday that the second sea trial will also focus on running tests of the aircraft carrier's weaponry and equipment.

"Radars, the navigation system and main weapons will be tested," Zhang said.

The Type 001A's first sea trial was from May 13 to 18. It returned on May 23 to the Dalian Shipyard to finish outfitting work.

Future sea trials will involve testing fighter jets and helicopters on board the aircraft carrier before being delivered to the PLA Navy, according to Zhang.

The delivery may take about a year thanks to the knowledge gained from the launch of the country's first carrier Liaoning, Song said.

China's first Type 055 missile destroyer made its maiden voyage on Friday.

Photos on Sina Weibo on Friday show the domestically built 10,000-ton missile destroyer leaving the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai for the first time.

The two ships are likely to be delivered to the PLA Navy around the same time with the destroyer serving as an escort vessel to the new carrier, significantly increasing the group's combat capability, Song said.

Multiple roles of Type 055

The missile destroyer is also capable of carrying out missions on its own and will play an important role in missile defense, experts said on Sunday.

"The Type 055 is China's top-level surface vessel. It will boost the combat ability of the PLA Navy on the high seas," according to Song.

The missile destroyer will also become an important extension to China's sea-based anti-missile system, as it can provide strategic depth from the high-sea, Song noted.

The destroyer was launched on June 28, 2017 but had not undergone sea trials before Friday.

The year between Type 055's launch and its first sea trial indicates that it must have undergone simulated tests to ensure the success of its sea trial, Song said.

More Type 055 vessels are under construction. Chinese experts said the PLA needs to commission at least 10 Type 055 missile destroyers in the future.

Type 055 missile destroyers are equipped with more than 100 vertical launch missile cells capable of launching surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles, land-attack cruise missiles and missile-launched anti-submarine torpedoes, according to Chinese and foreign military media reports.

Chinese experts expect the electromagnetic railgun, which is in development, to be mounted on Type 055 in the future.

Newspaper headline: Sea trials pave way for PLA’s aircraft carrier battle group


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