China's first indigenous aircraft carrier has once again made headlines recently.
The Chinese navy may see a major restructuring after its homemade aircraft carrier enters into service, said Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo, a Chinese naval expert, in an interview.
Photos posted online this month indicated the aircraft carrier had been painted with red primer and was being equipped with radar and other facilities, Taiwan media reported on last Saturday.
The newest photos also showed its deck was being cleaned, the report said, adding that the carrier was quite likely be launched in water on April 23, the founding anniversary of the Chinese navy.
According to Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo, the online photos showed the domestic aircraft carrier's island had been almost completed, installation of power systems and cabins in the lower part of the ship finished, and the deck already sealed.
The hull exterior was painted with red primer, an anti-fouling paint which is toxic, so the ship will not be left in open air for too long and will soon be launched in water, Yin explained.
According to Senior Captain Cao Weidong, another military expert from a naval institute of the PLA Navy, building a warship usually consists of three major phases: first, cutting steel plates, signaling the beginning of construction. Second, launching in water, meaning the hull is finished. Third, the ship enters into service.
There is still much work to do at the carrier's outfitting stage after its launching. Then functional debugging for its devices will be carried out before a trial on the sea, Cao said.
Some foreign media reports speculated that Chinese navy's capability would exceed the U.S. navy in West Pacific in the next two to three decades.
In response, Yin said Chinese navy's structure will see significant changes after the aircraft carrier enters into service, i.e. the aircraft carrier formation will become the core of the surface force.
Nevertheless, China will not seek development on such a large scale as that of the US navy, which has 11 aircraft carrier formations, Yin said.
Foreign media reports often adopts a kind of “kill-with-flattery” tactic toward China when it comes to making comparisons between Chinese and US military forces, at the cost of compromising objectivity, Yin noted.