China's second aircraft carrier is scheduled to be launched later this year and is expected to enter the service by 2020, Xu Guangyu, a retired Chinese military officer and consultant to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Assn, said in an interview with Beijing Media Network.
China's first home-made aircraft carrier, designed to be a base for fighter jets and helicopters, is now near completion. The aircraft carrier is the first of the Type 001A class, and represents an important step in advancing China's naval power.
"The aircraft carrier is being built as planned. Most of its major construction and design work has been completed. Its hull has already been assembled in a shipyard. The ship will soon be equipped with aviation, radar and other facilities," said Chinese Defense Ministry Spokesperson Wu Qian in October 2016, when he was responding to media inquiries on alleged aircraft carrier images circulating online.
Yin Zhuo, a Chinese naval expert, also confirmed in a CCTV interview that China's first home-made aircraft carrier is expected to be launched in water in early 2017.
There is still a large amount of work to do at the carrier's outfitting stage after its launching. It will take about one to two years to carry out functional debugging for its devices as well as weapons and equipment. The new aircraft carrier could begin its sea trial by early 2019, Xu said.
Xu also mentioned in the interview that Chinese carrier pilots are also under training, with an expectation of forming two aviation units.