The Type 001A carrier may start sea trials as the People's Liberation Army-Navy celebrates its 69th birthday Monday, the South China Morning Post reported. In addition to PLA-Navy sources informing the Post of the looming sea drills, the Liaoning Maritime Safety Administration announced Friday that parts of the Bohai and Yellow Sea would be off limits to non-military ships from April 20 to April 28.
Weather and sea conditions are said to play a role in whether the vessel will start sea trials, SCMP noted.
According to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Type 001A is quite similar to China's Liaoning aircraft carrier, a Soviet-built hull that Beijing purchased from Kiev in 1998. Beijing modernized the ship and commissioned it with the PLA-Navy in 2012.
The Type 001A displaces almost the same amount of water as the Liaoning and utilizes a ski-jump inclination for fixed-wing aircraft taking off from the ship, just like Liaoning. The Type 001A's dimensions measure 315 meters in length and 75 meters at the beam.
"Extensive training on the country's first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, has given the PLA-Navy experience operating the huge ship in the open sea, and gained initial capabilities on military operations in the far sea," a retired PLA-Navy officer told China's Global Times on Monday.
China established its first overseas base last year on the Horn of Africa by purchasing the leasing rights to a port in Djibouti. Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for the development of a powerful naval force capable of operating across the world's waters.
Xi Guangyu, a retired major general from the PLA, also told the Global Times on Monday that "in the future, the Chinese navy will need more bases around the globe, especially in key regions, to support its overseas mission."