According to the Global Times, the yet-unnamed Type 001A will address certain difficulties the carrier faced during its first round of sea trials in May earlier this year. The main goal will be to test the carrier's propulsion systems, the Global Times noted on Sunday.
One activity that will be reserved for future sea trials is conducting aircraft takeoffs and landings on the ship. Reports say zero aircraft could be seen on the carrier's deck when it set sail on Sunday morning.
All in all, the Type 001A's delivery "may take about a year thanks to the knowledge gained from the launch of the country's first aircraft carrier, Liaoning," Song Zhongping, TV commentator and Chinese analyst, told Global Times.
The Liaoning's hull was built under the Soviet Union before Beijing purchased the ship, retrofitted it, and conducted extensive naval aviation testing on it. The Liaoning "initially formed a system combat capability" on May 31, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said.
Once Type 001A is ready, the People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) plans to pair the carrier with a new destroyer ship that Song describes as "China's top-level surface vessel." The Type 055 destroyer started its initial sea trials last Friday, Global Times noted, and the Chinese expect to see an electromagnetic railgun mounted on the destroyer in the future.
According to the Asia Times, the carrier may end up being named after China's eastern province of Shandong.