China's 2nd aircraft carrier years away from becoming operational: Officials

China's second aircraft carrier, the first such ship developed domestically, will take about three to five years before it becomes operational, top officials have said.

The construction of the aircraft carrier's hull has nearly been completed and the process of installing the flight deck is going on, official media reported.

"The experience China has gained from the building and operations of the (first) aircraft carrier Liaoning help us avoid delays (in building one)," state-run 'Global Times' quoted Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie as saying.

Li noted that it could be three to five years before the new carrier becomes combat-ready.

Installing the flight deck means the building of the carrier hull is near completion, Lan Yun, deputy editor-in-chief of the Beijing-based Modern Ships magazine, told the paper.

"The flight deck covers up the carrier's hull, which means the interior facilities, including the main engine, boiler, propulsion drives and major compartments have been assembled," Lan added.

Equipment installation and testing, including in the aircraft hangar, operational command room, communication room and engine compartment will still need time, Li said, adding that the ship's command bridge will then be installed.

So, despite the achievement of installing the flight deck, it will take approximately a year before the carrier can be launched, and another one or two years of outfitting before it officially enters service, Li said.

Building aircraft carriers caters to China's increasing need for protection of both its territorial sovereignty and overseas interests, said Guo Xiaobing, deputy head of the Institute of Security and Arms Control Studies under the China Institutes of Contemporary Internationals Relations.

China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is a refitted Russian-made carrier delivered to the Chinese Navy in September 2012. It has a full displacement of over 50,000 tonnes.

Chinese officials say it is mainly an experimental and training ship. It is not clear when it will be deployed for operations.

"China needs at least three aircraft carriers to truly form battle effectiveness," Guo said, adding that there should be one cruising, one for training and one under maintenance.

The new carrier will be larger than Liaoning, though it will still carry the J-15, China's first-generation multipurpose carrier-borne fighter jet, Yin Zhuo, a rear admiral and a senior researcher at the People's Liberation Army Navy Equipment Research Centre told 'China Radio International'.

Chinese Defence spokesman, Yang Yujin, said earlier that the second aircraft carrier will have a displacement of 50,000 tonnes and it will be conventionally powered and adopt the ski-jump takeoff method for fixed-wing fighters.

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