China is close to completing its second aircraft carrier

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Photo by Japan’s Kyodo News Service

China is close to completing its second aircraft carrier, which will begin service by 2020, experts said.

China Central Television (CCTV) reported that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’sType 001A class aircraft carrier’s scaffold has been removed and red undercoat has beenpainted below the ship’s waterline in Dalian, northeastern Liaoning Province, and that alaunching ceremony will soon be held.

“Unlike the Liaoning(Type 001), China’s first aircraft carrier, a refitted ship built byUkraine (under the former Soviet Union), the 001A is China-built, and its design, combatcapability and technologies will be much more advanced,” Song Zhongping, a militaryexpert, told the Global Times.

“One key difference is the design will be more ‘humanized,’ which means all personnel onthe carrier will enjoy a more comfortable and modern environment,” Song said.

However, “there’s still a long way to go from its launch to enlistment, which normally takestwo years,” Yin Zhuo, a senior researcher at the PLA Navy Equipment Research Center, told CCTV.

Song said “its status can be compared to a house whose paint job has been completed butrequires decorating, which, in military terms, is called the ‘outfitting stage.'”

It means all weapons and equipment, including the radar system, air defense system andcommunications system will be outfitted on the carrier. After this, the carrier and aircrafton it will be tested, and then the carrier will be ready to serve, Song said.

“Construction of the aircraft carrier is on schedule. Most of its construction and designwork has been completed. Its hull has already been assembled at the shipyard. The shipwill soon be equipped with radar and other facilities,” said Chinese defense ministryspokesperson Wu Qian in October 2016, in response to media inquiries on reportedaircraft carrier images circulating online.

A large amount of work remains to be done on the carrier’s outfitting stage after it’slaunched, presumably sometime this year, Li Jie, a naval military expert, said. “It will takeabout one to two years to carry out functional debugging of its devices, weapons andequipment. The new aircraft carrier can begin sea trials by early 2019.”

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