China’s defence ministry has confirmed that the country’s first locally built aircraft carrier has entered its final stage of construction before the hull is launched, which media reports suggest could be as early as April 23, the founding anniversary of the navy.
“China’s first home-built aircraft carrier is now being fitted out, everything is going very smoothly,” defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Thursday when asked about the carrier’s upcoming launch.
“Regarding the news [about whether the ship will be launched in time for the navy’s anniversary] I believe you won’t have to wait too long.”
Earlier this week, mainland media reported that the carrier, temporarily named the Type 001A, would be launched on April 23, the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
Citing sources close to the navy, the South China Morning Post earlier this week reported that President Xi Jinping might attend the launch.
The new carrier will be similar to the Liaoning, China’s first carrier which was refurbished from the half-completed carrier Varyag that Beijing bought from Ukraine in 1998. It will also be equipped with a ski-jump take-off ramp.