China Type 001A aircraft carrier at launch: PLA Navy photo
Chinas first home-made Type 001A aircraft carrier, slated for sea tests soon, will not house fifth-gen fighter jets but will instead operation with some 40 J-15 fighter aircraft.
The Type 001A carrier, which is close to completing its mooring test, has a ski-jump flight deck while the fifth generation jets such as J-20 and J-31 are meant for flight operations from China's future straight-deck aircraft carriers with the electromagnetic launcher system.
The first domestically-built aircraft carrier will soon take the sea test, according to Military Time, a China Central Television military program on Saturday.
Similar to the country's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, the Type 001A uses an upward ski jump-style deck, the Chinese J-15 fighters will be the top option for its carrier-based aircraft, the report said.
J-15 fighters, nicknamed the Flying Shark, took off and landed on the Liaoning for the first time in 2012, and more than 20 of these jets have trained on it.
The J-20 and J-31 will surely be installed on future Chinese aircraft carriers with the catapult system, Yin Zhuo, a senior researcher at the PLA Naval Equipment Research Center, told the Military Times, various Chinese official media reported.
Yin commented that the J-15 fighters on the Type 001A will be around 40, about the same as that for Liaoning ship.
However, Song Zhongping, a TV commentator, told the Global Times that "It is more likely that J-15 fighters and improved versions will be on board together with stealth fighters such as the J-20 and J-31, as they will be playing different roles." Song pointed out that since the J-20 and J-31 are primarily designed for the air force, adapting them as navy fighters will entail some costs.
The sea test for the Type-001A could be conducted as early as the beginning of next year, Zhang Ye, a research fellow at the People's Liberation Army Naval Research Institute, told the Global Times.