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I'm not so sure about the J-15. If all system onboard the ship are to be tested and ready, this'd include things like the arresting gear. So hopefully J-15 landing and take off test would at least have been started in this year.
The American have first carrier landing of F-18E/F in Jan 1997, and they started low rate production of the aircraft in Mar 1997, and full production by Sep 1997. They then took two years to complete the testing of the aircraft. I believed the PLAN pilots may have already carried out land based testing/training of J-15. So assuming the schedule would be similar to the F-18E/F, the first two years would probably be used in testing of J-15 and training of J-15 pilots.
Varyag may just be fufilling its role of "scientific research, experimental and training" carrier platform literally in the first few years of its service.