China’s first domestically-built Type 001A aircraft carrier, which is the country’s second carrier, seems close to its commissioning into navy with preparations likely underway.
The boat recently returned from its eighth sea trial. When it embarked on the sea trial, military experts said it was “the last trial before its induction into the Chinese navy.”
During its previous trials, the Type 001A’s aircraft landing and take-off equipment was tested, along with the evaluation of onboard communication systems. “The eighth sea trial could examine if the warship is ready for final delivery, and if problems encountered in previous trials have been eliminated,” local media had reported.
Troops in white naval uniforms lined the warship's flight deck on the morning of October 24, and practiced an inspection ceremony, wenweipo.com reported on Tuesday.
A huge “1” painted on the ship’s hull earlier has now been erased, with no other visible markings, the report said.
"Painting a hull number is usually a sign that a warship is about to join military service,” a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Wednesday.
China’s first carrier, the Liaoning, entered service in September 2012. While the Liaoning has the hull number “16,” the new Type 001A vessel could bear the number “17,” military observers noted.
The new boat can reportedly house 36 J-15 fighter jets and additional helicopters, a dozen more than the Liaoning’s tally of 24 J-15s.