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China’s Fujian Aircraft Carrier: Successful Maiden Voyage and Its Implications for the U.S.

Daniel Kim Views  

China’s third aircraft carrier, the Fujian, completed its maiden eight-day test voyage in the afternoon of the 8th, bringing it one step closer to official commissioning.

CCTV screenshot

According to a report by China Central Television (CCTV) on the 8th, the Fujian, which set sail on the 1st, returned to the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, its shipbuilding site, after completing all scheduled tasks for the day. Concerning this, CCTV stated, “During the test voyage, the Fujian carried out a series of tests on systems such as power and electricity. It achieved the expected effect,” adding, “Next, this ship will carry out follow-up tests according to the already established plan.”

CCTV did not mention whether there was carrier-borne aircraft training during this test voyage. However, considering that no aircraft were visible on the deck in the photos and videos released by Chinese state media at the time of departure, it appears that there were no landing and takeoff exercises.

It usually takes several years for an aircraft carrier to go from launch to commissioning. The Gerald R. Ford, the latest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier of the United States that was launched in 2013, was commissioned in 2017, but its first operational deployment was not until 2022.

The test voyage, which can take up to a year, can be seen as the final gateway to commissioning. China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, each conducted 10 and 9 test voyages, respectively, before commissioning. Therefore, it is expected that Fujian will also continue similar levels of test voyages in the future.

The Fujian is the first catapult-type aircraft carrier that China has indigenously designed and built, with a displacement of about 80,000 tons. Unlike the ski-jump aircraft takeoff method of the first carrier Liaoning and the second carrier Shandong, the Fujian’s most notable feature is the adoption of an electromagnetic catapult (an injection machine that launches aircraft from the deck of the carrier). If deployed in the future, this will allow more aircraft to be launched in a limited time. The Fujian is known to be the world’s second aircraft carrier equipped with an electromagnetic catapult, following the USS Gerald R. Ford.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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