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China's second aircraft carrier is likely to start its first sea trials soon with the development to be presented as a key achievement of President Xi Jinping at the ruling Communist Party's Congress expected to take place in October.
The "key project" team has completed tasks ahead of schedule, Hu Wenming, the head and Party chief of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), the manufacturer of the Type 001A said.
China has one aircraft carrier in operation now - the 'Liaoning', which went into commission in 2012. The Type 001A is the country's first home-grown aircraft carrier.
The Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Corp (DSIC) where it was built will greet the 19th CPC National Congress by delivering key achievements on a special product in this special time," DSIC Chairman Liu Zheng was quoted as saying by state-run Global Times on Wednesday.
The Congress which is held every five years is expected to be held in October here. Xi, 64, who is completing his five year tenure as party general secretary, President and head of the Army, is widely believed to get a second term.
As per the practice of the CPC, top leaders will have a ten year tenure.
Liu said all personnel working on the key project led by the CSIC will stick to the directions of Xi to provide world- class naval equipment for a world-leading navy.
The "special time" refers to the 19th Congress, which marks the opening of a new phase of China's reforms. And the enhancement of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy's combat capabilities is an important part of the country's military reforms," Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Daily.
Zhang Ye, a research fellow at the PLA Naval Research Institute said that if the Type 001A made in China can start its sea trials before the event, which is the last stage prior to turning the warship over to the navy, it would mark a huge step forward in China's development of a stronger navy.
China has successfully tested the Type 001A's power system and the carrier will undergo a mooring test in September ahead of schedule, meaning that the ship's power system is all set.
Zhang said he believed part of the mooring test has already started even during the power test, so the mooring test period could be shorter than expected.
The schedule for the sea trials will depend on how long the mooring test takes, Zhang noted.
The sea trials will include an even more comprehensive performance test, which would cover the propelling and communications systems under different maritime conditions, which would usually take two years, Zhang said. He added the trials would not be limited to a specific weather condition.
"The Type 001A is an improved version of the Type 001 Liaoning, so the similarity and experience can largely speed things up," Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the Rocket (Missile Force) said.
China's 'Liaoning' is a refurbished aircraft carrier built from the hull of a Soviet ship bought from Ukraine in 1998. Regarded as an experimental vessel, it is taking part in battle group exercises in different seas.
The second ship, Type 001A weighs about 70,000 tonnes, is 315 metres long, 75 metres wide and has a cruising speed of 31 knots.