GENERICO.ruPoliticsA unique new aircraft carrier went to sea for the first time: a symbol of growing naval power

A unique new aircraft carrier went to sea for the first time: a symbol of growing naval power

China's Fujian ship is equipped with an electromagnetic catapult system to launch large aircraft

China's newest, largest and most advanced aircraft carrier, the Fujian, took a big step toward joining the the world's largest navy, setting off from Shanghai for its first sea trials.

The Chinese ship Fujian is equipped with an electromagnetic catapult system for launching large aircraft

The naval assessment is expected to take place in the East China Sea, approximately 130 kilometers from the shipyard Jiangnan, where the aircraft carrier has been under construction for more than six years, according to the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration.

“The sea trials will primarily test the reliability and stability of the aircraft carrier's propulsion system and electrical systems,” state news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday.

The warship was launched in 2022 and “has completed mooring trials , work on equipping and setting up equipment”, preparing for the latest sea trials, reports Xinhua.

With a displacement of 80,000 metric tons, the Fujian is larger than the two operational aircraft carriers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLA), the 66,000-ton Shandong and the 60,000-ton Liaoning. Only the US Navy operates aircraft carriers larger than Fujian, CNN notes.

“Fujian's sea trials are a major milestone in the implementation of this plan and mark its entry into the small club of navies equipped with top-tier aircraft. class,” comments John Bradford, fellow on international affairs at the Council on Foreign Relations.

A key feature of the Fujian is its electromagnetic catapult system, which will allow it to launch aircraft larger and heavier than the Shandong and Liaoning, which use a ski-jump launch method, CNN notes.

Analysts say Fujian's ability to launch larger combat aircraft with more ammunition over long distances will give the carrier a greater combat range than its predecessors in the Chinese fleet, giving the Chinese Navy so-called “blue water” capabilities.

< p>“These sea trials mark the first important step in the development of China's capability to deploy sea-based air forces in the deep ocean,” said Karl Schuster, a former US Navy captain and former director of operations for the Joint Intelligence Center, US Pacific Command.

The electromagnetic catapult system puts Fujian on par with the US Navy's newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, the only operational aircraft carrier in the world equipped with an electromagnetic catapult system. The US Navy's 10 older Nimitz-class aircraft carriers use steam catapults to launch aircraft.

However, CNN adds a fly in the ointment, all US aircraft carriers will retain two key advantages over the Fujian: power and size.

American aircraft carriers are nuclear-powered, allowing them to remain at sea until there is enough food for the crew, while the Fujian runs on conventional fuel, meaning it must either make port or be met tanker at sea for refueling.

As for the US Navy's size advantage over the Fujian, the Ford displaces 100,000 metric tons, while the 10 Nimitz class ships displace 87,000 metric tons. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) estimates that the larger US ships could carry more aircraft – about 75, compared with the Fujian's expected 60.

Analysts also noted that American aircraft carriers are equipped with more catapults, larger air ducts and elevators, which allow aircraft to be moved more quickly from the lower hangar deck.

U.S. aircraft carriers “remain in their own echelon,” Bradford said.

American aircraft carriers “remain in their own echelon,” Bradford said.

American aircraft carriers “remain in their own echelon,” Bradford said.

U.S. p>

Karl Schuster said the current phase of sea trials in Fujian province is expected to last three to six days and will not involve any flight operations.

“The radar and communications equipment will undergo some testing, but early sea trials always focus on hull integrity, propulsion and engineering, since problems with these interfere with the normal operation of everything else,” Schuster said.

In total, analysts expect Fujian's sea trials to take at least a year, with its commissioning likely to take place next year or 2026. A January article on the Chinese Ministry of Defense website noted that the Liaoning underwent 10 sea trials and the Shandong nine before entering service.

When it joins the Chinese Navy fleet, ” Fujian will become a symbol of what is now the largest navy in the world, with more than 340 warships, even as Chinese shipyards churning out new warships at a frantic pace.

“It will be the most a visible symbol of China's growing naval power,” said Brian Hart, a fellow with the China Power Project at CSIS.

Meanwhile, according to a report by the state-run Global Times, in March Chinese Navy Political Commissioner Yuan Huazhi said the construction of a fourth aircraft carrier for the Chinese fleet could soon be announced.

When this announcement is made, the question of whether China will have a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier will be answered, the report said.< /p>

The US Navy is already building three new Ford-class aircraft carriers – the future John F. Kennedy, Enterprise and Doris Miller.

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