China's second aircraft carrier may undergo its first sea trials in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea areas shortly, and it is likely to be ready for combat two years after its expected delivery to the navy at the end of 2018, Chinese military analysts said.
Liaoning Maritime Safety Administration issued three sailing warnings Friday, saying that as military operations would be conducted from April 20 to 28 in parts of the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea, no vessels would be allowed to enter the areas, according to a notice on its website.
Military watchers attributed the warnings to possible sea trials of China's first domestically built aircraft carrier, as media revealed previously that it might undergo its first sea trials on April 23, the founding day of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy.
"The first sea trials of China's second aircraft carrier, built at the Dalian shipyard, are likely to take place in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea to test its power and design," Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times Sunday.
Online pictures showed that scaffolding around the Type 001A carrier had been removed, and a phased-array radar has been installed, the Science and Technology Daily reported on April 10.
Military expert Cao Weidong, told news site people.com.cn on April 11 that China's first home-built aircraft carrier is likely to finish sea trials in the second half of this year, which means that it may be delivered to the PLA navy at that time.
Cao said it was no surprise that sea trials may start soon, as China had accumulated much experience with its first aircraft carrier. Technical staff and other shipbuilders had been working overtime to ready the new vessel in the past year.
Song predicted the carrier could be ready for combat in two years after sea trials, as well as tests on its radar, command system and shipboard flights.
China began building the carrier in November 2013. Dry dock construction started in March 2015, and it was transferred to the water in April 2017.
China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, together with missile destroyers, J-15 fighters and shipboard helicopters, joined a confrontation exercise in the West Pacific on Friday, aiming to test the combat operation of the formation on the high seas, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.
In just two years, China will have two aircraft carriers with combat capability, which will greatly improve China's blue-water military readiness, as well as effectively safeguard national interests, Song said. He stressed that China's aircraft carriers would not be a threat to any other country.
Western media has paid great attention to every movement of China's aircraft carriers and made irresponsible remarks about them, as countries including the US and Japan worry that China's military development may threaten their global strategy, Song said.