March 31 (UPI) -- China's first domestically built aircraft carrier is currently being outfitted with equipment at a shipyard in Liaoning province and will be launched soon, according to Ministry of Defense spokesman Wu Qian.
China Daily reports that Wu said "we won't keep the public waiting for too long" on Thursday while answering questions on whether the new carrier could be launched by April 23, the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy.
The carrier will be the second in PLA Navy's fleet. The conventionally powered CNS Liaoning, a former Soviet carrier, was commissioned into service in China in 2012. It is primarily used for training and research.
Zhu Chenghu, a professor at China's National Defense University, said that following its launch, the new carrier will undergo additional equipment fitting and then testing before being delivered to the navy.
"The launch is only the first step," Zhu said. "By current progress, the new carrier would still have to undergo one to two years of testing, both at the dock and at sea, before it could be officially handed to the Navy.
"Nevertheless, China launching its first domestically designed aircraft carrier is a monumental step toward building a world class navy," he added.
The new carrier is to play a combat/defensive role once commissioned. It is to be conventionally powered and equipped with jet launch systems similar to those on the Liaoning.