China’s state broadcaster has aired footage of the country’s new aircraft carrier, revealing details for the first time of the home-grown warship’s interior.
While the new aircraft carrier is not expected to take part in a fleet review marking the PLA Navy’s 70th anniversary on Tuesday, a CCTV report has offered a rare glimpse of the vessel in footage taken during its most recent sea trial.
The naval parade will include 32 Chinese warships – including its first and only operational aircraft carrier the Liaoning – and 20 foreign vessels from 10 countries, deputy naval commander Qiu Yanpeng said on Saturday.
The new warship, the Type 001A, is the first Chinese-built aircraft carrier. Its design is based on the Liaoning, an unfinished Soviet Kutznetsov-class vessel Beijing bought from Ukraine in 1998 and retrofitted.
In the 23 seconds of footage shown in the report, several operators are seen standing on the bridge, while a team of technicians sit at the control panels.
The warship is also seen moving at high speed, and it shows the bridge and ski-jump flight deck without any aircraft on board.
A close-up shows the vessel’s advanced active phased array radar with an integrated mast structure – a significant upgrade from the Liaoning’s set-up – and its close-in weapon system to counter incoming artillery and rockets.
According to the report, the warship “underwent full testing and demonstration of its command system and combat capabilities” during the recent sea trial, its fifth so far, from February 27 to March 5 in the Yellow Sea off the coast of Dalian, where it was built.
Testing of its docking, power, combat and logistics functions had already been completed, it said.
But military experts said the aircraft carrier may not be fully combat ready and it was not expected to join the naval parade this week.
“One is enough for the same class of carrier, ” said Yue Gang, a military commentator and retired People’s Liberation Army colonel. “But the new carrier will surely be presented as a huge gift for National Day in October to mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.”
The fleet review off the coast of Qingdao, Shandong province is expected to be the fifth military parade inspected by President Xi Jinping since he took the helm in late 2012.
Last year’s naval parade in the South China Sea – the Chinese navy’s biggest ever fleet review – involved 48 vessels, including the Liaoning, 76 aircraft and 10,000 troops.
With a bigger hangar, the new aircraft carrier can accommodate up to 32 J-15 fighter jets – compared to 26 on the Liaoning. Other redesigned elements include a bridge on two levels rather than one, with bigger windows.
Its conventional steam turbines give the Type 001A a top speed of 31 knots, a little slower than the Liaoning’s 32 knots. But it has a full displacement of 70,000 tonnes, compared to the Liaoning’s 58,600 tonnes. The Type 001A, which has yet to be named, made its maiden voyage in May last year.
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