CHINA'S refitted aircraft carrier will begin serving in the navy officially this year, senior military officials said yesterday. Fighter jets will soon be involved in sea trials that have been running smoothly so far, Xu Hongmeng, deputy commander of Chinese navy, said.
"The military authorities plan to enable the commissioning of the aircraft carrier this year,"
said Mr. Xu in Beijing.
A spokesman for the Defense Ministry had said earlier that the carrier would be used primarily for scientific research and training of future PLAN Naval Aviation pilots.
Military experts estimate that the carrier will be commissioned on August 1, the day of the Army in China,
and will serve in the South China Sea. It has not been officialy named yet.
China still has a long way to go before producing its own aircraft carrier, because it must adapt to new trends of development, noted yesterday Xu Xiaoyan, Lieutenant General of the People's Liberation Army. "China will need at least three aircraft carriers,"
Major General Luo Yuan, a researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences of the PLA, said that "it is entirely possible for China to build more aircraft carriers corresponding to the country's economic strength.