Named “Fujian”, the ship is the first Chinese-designed and built catapult aircraft carrier, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
The new system, similar to those used by US aircraft carriers, will allow China to launch a wider variety of aircraft from Fujian faster and with more ammunition.
In addition to the launch system, the Fujian is equipped with blocking devices and a full-load displacement of more than 80,000 tons, Xinhua reported, adding that the ship will carry out mooring tests and sailing tests afterward. the start.
Matthew Funaiole, a senior researcher with CSIS’s China Project, previously told CNN that the new ship would be the Chinese military’s first modern aircraft carrier.
“It’s a pretty big step forward,” he said. “They’re really committed to a carrier program and they continue to push the limits of what they’re capable of doing.”
China’s ruling Communist Party claims sovereignty over Taiwan’s self-governing democracy, though it has never ruled it. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has repeatedly said that “reunification” between China and Taiwan is inevitable and refused to rule out the use of force.
China now has the largest naval force in the world, and aircraft carriers are the main ships of the all-powerful fleet. Massive ships are essentially a mobile air base, allowing rapid, long-term deployment of aircraft and weapons to a combat theater.
China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was an unfinished Soviet-era ship that Beijing bought from Ukraine in 1998, updated and finally commissioned in 2012.
The Chinese military used the technological knowledge gained from this ship to build its first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Shandong, which entered service in December 2019.
But although China’s two initial aircraft carriers increased its naval power, their capacity was still far behind the United States, which has a total of 11 of the ships in service.
Moreover, Liaoning and Shandong were based on obsolete Soviet technology. Both of these carriers used the ski jump launch system, where planes simply took off from a slight ramp, while American carriers used a more advanced catapult system to launch their plane.
Catapult-launched planes can take off faster and with greater amounts of fuel and ammunition, giving them an advantage over ski-jump-launched planes, which rely on their own power when taking off.
However, despite the advanced launch system, CSIS’s Funaiole said there were still signs the Chinese carrier was lagging behind its American counterparts, which have more catapults, a larger airway and more elevators to enable faster deployment of aircraft.
All US aircraft carriers are also nuclear-powered, while Fujian is supposed to run on conventional steam propulsion, which Funaiole says would limit its range. “(Although) that may be less of a factor for China at the moment, as many of its interests lie in the near seas,” he said.
After launch, the Fujian will need to be tested and fully equipped before it can be commissioned and officially put into service.
Initially, the US Department of Defense estimated the carrier would be ready for active service by 2023, but it has now pushed that date back to 2024.
Shandong’s aircraft carrier also took two years from its launch in 2017 to its final commissioning in 2019. Additionally, Fujian may struggle to get its catapults’ electromagnetic launch technology to work.
Even the United States had difficulty using the same system on their last carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, which led to long deployment delays.
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