“Based on its current progress [in its sea trials], the carrier won’t appear on October 1. It’s more likely the giant ship will be ready by the end of the year, and then be formally commissioned into the navy,” an anonymous military source told the South China Morning Post.
“I am disappointed with such a result, but it’s a fact that the Type 001A is not on the weapons list for the National Day celebration,” the source added. “The ship needs to complete a series of laborious and comprehensive tests, which is the most important stage in proving it is a real battleship.”
According to naval expert Li Jie, the Central Military Commission (CMC), which is a national defense organization in China, has recently set higher standards for tests military hardware must successfully pass.
“The CMC demands all new weapons undergo a series of strict tests and trials, and no longer allows these things to be rushed through so they [the hardware] are ready by a certain date or so they can take part in a parade,” he told the South China Morning Post.
The 65,000-tonne aircraft was launched in April 2017 and has since undergone at least six rounds of sea trials. However, it hasn’t yet met its “initial operating capability” requirements.
“Some of the electronic warfare systems and other equipment were upgraded in the latest revamp, but even now, no one would dare to say it is a real, battle-ready carrier,” Li explained.
According to Lu Li-shih, a retired lieutenant commander with the Taiwanese navy, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is currently focusing on preparing carrier strike groups, which are groups of vessels that support an aircraft carrier’s operations, the South China Morning Post reported.
“Aircraft carriers are not the PLA Navy’s current priority, but rather training their strike groups, including destroyers, frigates, submarines and supply ships,” he said.
“The carrier battle groups’ fighting capabilities were boosted with the arrival of the new Type 055 guided-missile destroyer, which went into service in April,” Lu said, also noting that the PLAN was “choosing to conduct its drills in waters where maritime communication radar systems from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, as well as other US allies, could not detect them.”
The Type 055 is a class of guided missile destroyer constructed for the PLAN.