China’s first home-grown aircraft carrier has been reportedly preparing for its maiden sea voyage in the northeastern Bohai Sea later in April, with experts noting that the vessel may serve the Chinese Navy in the second half of 2018.
Citing sources close to the Chinese military, South China Morning post reported on April 3 that the carrier’s first sea trial would test the ship’s basic functions, including power systems, damage control and radar and communication systems.
“We’ve already accumulated data and experience during the building of the Liaoning aircraft carrier, and our experts and workers have been working hard in recent months with enough financial support. So I would not be surprised if the carrier is to conduct such a sea trial soon,” Cao Weidong, a Chinese military expert, told People’s Daily Online.
According to the latest online photos from the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC) construction site in Liaoning Province, where the carrier was launched and outfitted, the scaffolds on the carrier have been completely removed, and a phased array radar has been installed.
"All the equipment and devices on the carrier are in the joint debugging stage, and the main engine has been powered. In 2018, we will present a surprise to the Chinese people," DSIC Chairman Liu Zheng said, according to a report on cctv.com, the official website of China Central Television, on March 13.
“Once the sea trial is completed and all aspects of the carrier have met the set standards, it will be delivered to the Navy for further use. I would say that such a sea trial will be completed in the second half of 2018, meaning that it can serve the navy by then,” Cao added.