China’s locally-made aircraft carrier, "Type 001A," headed out on Saturday for its final sea trials before its formal induction into the PLA Navy fleet later this year, local media reported.
"The likely sixth sea trial could feature comprehensive and final tests before the warship's commissioning into the PLA Navy," Li Jie, a military expert, told Global Times.
Chinese media on Saturday posted several unverified photographs and videos of the carrier leaving from the Dalian Shipyard in Northeast China's Liaoning Province under the assistance of multiple tug boats.
A notice published Friday stated that a military mission is scheduled to begin on Friday in the Bohai Strait and in the northern part of Yellow sea, just outside Dalian where the Type 001A carrier is moored. The sector is now off limits for other ships, the report added.
The warship is said to have already successfully tested its avionics, radar and communication systems in previous trials, so it is likely fighter jets will conduct take offs and landings this time. Electronic warfare version of the J-15 warplane and a Z-18 helicopter were spotted on board the Type 001A as it embarked on the sea trial in March, according to reports published in that month.
After the completion of its fifth sea trial in March, the Type 001A stayed at in the Dalian Shipyard and underwent outfitting works including flight deck painting and conducted a replenishment drill within the shipyard with the supply ship Hulunhu in late April, media reported.
Li said the sixth sea trial could again test those problems that were encountered during previous trials and then solved during the past months.
"If the ship can smoothly finish this trial mission, it indicates that it is basically fit to be delivered," Li added.