Hong Kong, March 9 (CNA) Several senior Chinese officials have confirmed that China is building its second aircraft carrier and will likely adopt an improved launch system for aircraft on the ship, a Chinese-language daily in Hong Kong reported Monday.
The Hong Kong Commercial Daily (香港商報) cited Liu Xiaojiang (劉曉江), a former political commissar of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, as saying that the government's industrial and manufacturing agencies are now in charge of the ship's construction.
Liu said that compared with the first carrier, the Liaoning(遼寧號), which was commissioned in September 2012, several improvements are being made to the second ship but concrete details are only known within those agencies responsible for the project.
The report also cited Ding Haichun (丁海春), deputy political commissar of the PLA's Navy, as saying that after the completion of the ship's construction, it will be turned over to the Navy for training maneuvers.
On foreign wire reports that the second carrier could be launched in 2015 at the earliest, Liu said they were "making it up" and were definitely not true.
On how many carriers China needs, Liu said the basic requirement for a combat force should be at least one carrier each for duty at sea, for maintenance and for training.
But he said he could not say exactly how many carriers the Navy needed because there was no precedent.
"I think if we need carriers, the more the better. The key is how much funding do we have," he said.
The reports also cited Ma Weiming (馬偉明), an expert in electrical and electronics engineering, as saying that the new carrier's system to launch aircraft was proceeding smoothly.
He stressed that the system was no longer inferior to and might even be more advanced than that used by the United States, whose catapult takeoff service technology is currently the best in the world.
China's CCTV reported last week that the catapult being tested in China to help planes take off quickly is more efficient than the "ski-jump" ramp used to launch aircraft on China's first carrier.
Li Li (李莉), a military expert in China, has said both steam and electromagnetic catapults are used to launch aircraft, with the United States the first country to use the electromagnetic launch system.
Steam catapults have their limitations, Li said, while electromagnetic catapults enable planes to take off without worrying about weather conditions and are therefore more strategically significant.