China’s first aircraft carrier built entirely in its own shipyard, the giant unnamed Type 001A modified Kuznetsov-class flattop, set out from Dalian (old Tsarist Port Arthur from the Russo-Japanese War for those military history buffs) on builder’s sea trials Sunday morning.
“Our country’s second aircraft carrier set sail from its dock in the Dalian shipyard for relevant waters to conduct a sea trial mission, mainly to inspect and verify the reliability and stability of mechanical systems and other equipment,” Reuters quoted the official Xinhua news agency as saying.
Unlike Type 001 carrier Liaoning, which was originally laid down in 1985 for the Soviet Navy as the Kuznetsov-class aircraft cruiser Riga and only completed in 2012 after an epic 27-year saga, the new Type 001A was built wholly in China and could be a sign of things to come.
Laid down in Nov. 2013, she is expected to be operational sometime next year, a production cycle that took just six years and rivals that of the current Ford-class (although it should be pointed out that class-leader, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), had her first steel cut in 2005, was officially laid down in 2009, commissoned last year, and is not expected to deploy until 2020)
These photos were released today by the Chinese military of the first “Official” landings and take offs from the 53,000-ton PLAN ship Liaoning CV-16.
The pilot who achieved the first landing was allegedly Dai Mingmeng.
Originally laid down as the Admiral Kuznetsov class multirole aircraft carrier Riga for the Soviet Navy, she was launched on December 4, 1988 and renamed Varyag in 1990. The ship was purchased in 1998 by the People’s Republic of China (reportedly for use as an amusement park) and towed to Dalian Shipyard in north eastern China. After extensive refit and sea trials, the ship was commissioned into the PLAN as Liaoning on September 25, 2012. Now with her hull 27 years old, she has landed her first carrier-capable fighter aircraft. The crew looks very professional and very…..NATO…down to the color coded float-coats.
The plane with the groovy camo is a Shenyang J-15 ( also known as Flying Shark) which is thought based on a reversed engineered Ukrainian supplied and Russian-designed Sukhoi Su-33 and is fitted with domestically produced radars and weapons. Its a Gen 4.5 fighter and allegedly has a 10% superior thrust to weight ratio and a 25% lower wing loading than the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet– the plane it would most likely fly against. The PLANAF only has 16 of these planes so far in one experimental squadron on a patchwork carrier, while the USN has about 500 F-18E/F’s in 33 squadrons ready to fly from 10 experienced nuclear aircraft carriers.