China’s defence ministry has confirmed that the country’s first locally built aircraft carrier has entered its final stage of construction before the hull is launched, which media reports suggest could be as early as April 23, the founding anniversary of the navy.

“China’s first home-built aircraft carrier is now being fitted out, everything is going very smoothly,” defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Thursday when asked about the carrier’s upcoming launch.

“Regarding the news [about whether the ship will be launched in time for the navy’s anniversary] I believe you won’t have to wait too long.”