Expert: Sea trials for China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier approaching

China Military Online
Yao Jianing

A Z-18 modified helicopter landed on the deck of the domestically-built aircraft carrier berthed at the dockyard of Dalian Shipyard and left after a few minutes on the morning of May 5, according to reports by China Central Television. This was the first take-off and landing test of a carrier-borne helicopter on China’s first home-grown aircraft carrier. The military expert Cao Weidong said that this test was intended to prepare for an upcoming sea trial.

According to media reports, the Z-18 helicopter has a large take-off weight, a strong load capacity, and a long flight range. The overall combat capability of the Z-18 has reached the level of its international antisubmarine counterparts. The Z-18 is an ideal carrier-borne helicopter for aircraft carrier combat groups. The aircraft carrier Liaoning is also equipped with multiple Z-18 helicopters.

The Z-18 has undergone a series of retrofits and can now be supplied in transport, anti-submarine and early-warning modes. Some media have pointed out that the Z-18 helicopter's take-off and landing test is the biggest surprise before the sea trial as it indicates that mooring test of China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier has proceeded.

The military expert Du Wenlong said that the Z-18 is China's largest helicopter, with a large internal and external load-carrying capacity and relatively strong precision components. The helicopter, with its varied types, is a good anti-submarine and early warning platform at sea. It is currently the standard equipment for the aircraft carrier Liaoning and the future new aircraft carrier, and is crucial for the operational support ability of aircraft carriers.

Experts believe that although the Z-18 only stayed on the deck of the aircraft carrier for a few minutes, the event has great significance. The test may have involved pilot communication training and test under complex electromagnetic conditions. It may include airfield tests on decks, islands, and other facilities, as well as adaptive landing tests.

Some media also pointed out that the Z-9 helicopter also landed on the deck of the berthed Liaoning carrier before sea trial. Take-off and landing tests have shown that the commanding and guidance system related to the landing of helicopters is operational, so the sea trial of China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier may start in the near future.

Cao said that after outfitting, the aircraft carrier will conduct a mooring test to check the power system in a static state and collect data on each cabin. The helicopter landing aims to test the new aircraft carrier's flight scheduling and landing capabilities, all of which are prepared for the sea trial. "The more preparations we have done, the closer we get to the sea trial," said Cao.

Cao also noted that the sea trial of China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier should include the take-off and landing of carrier-borne fighter jets and therefore its sea trial time may be longer than Liaoning’s.

Disclaimer: The author is Qiu Yue, reporter with The article is translated from Chinese into English by the China Military online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. If the article carries photographs or images, we do not vouch for their authenticity.


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