China’s Largest Aircraft Carrier ‘Fujian’ Begins 1st Sea Trial

Aircraft Carrier
Image for representation purposes only

China’s largest aircraft carrier, the Fujian, has begun its first sea testing, signaling a turning point in its naval capabilities.

The vessel, launched in June 2022, set out from Shanghai on April 23, the anniversary of China’s navy’s founding.

This historical event has again drawn attention to the changing dynamics of naval power in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly between China and India.

The Fujian, with an astounding weight of over 80,000 tonnes, has impressive capabilities, including the ability to hold 60 to 70 fighter aircraft.

The carrier is outfitted with an electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) technology, previously exclusive to the US Gerald Ford aircraft carrier.

The carrier, named after China’s Fujian province, symbolizes a significant advancement in naval prowess.

It surpasses its predecessors, the Liaoning and Shandong, as the country’s largest aircraft warship carrier.

The arrival of the Fujian highlights the need for India to reevaluate its naval policy, as China’s fleet surpasses India’s by a factor of three.

The Fujian’s capabilities outperform those of India’s largest warship aircraft carrier, the Vikrant, forcing it to reconsider India’s navy modernization initiatives.

Despite India’s efforts to purchase sophisticated ships, submarines, and planes, the advent of the Fujian highlights the importance of improving India’s naval capabilities to retain strategic parity in the region.

The Fujian’s path from superblock construction to its initial sea trial is an incredible accomplishment in naval engineering, having taken six years to complete.

Technical specifications reveal the carrier’s length of around 316 meters and a beam across the flight deck from 72 to 76 meters.

The carrier is fitted with electromagnetic catapults, three catapults, and four arrestor wires, which improves operational efficiency.

Self-defense armaments include numerous launchers for the HQ-10 short-range surface-to-air missile system and H/PJ-11 30mm autocannons.

The Fujian air group comprises fighter planes and fixed-wing airborne early warning and control (AEWC) aircraft designed to improve combat effectiveness.

When the carrier enters service with the Chinese Navy in 2026, its air group is expected to feature the J-15B and J-35 fighter jets, as well as the KJ-600 AEWC aircraft.

Furthermore, the carrier will likely accommodate many helicopters, including the Z-8/18 and Z-20 types.

Following its inaugural sea trial, the Fujian will undergo additional trials and testing, most likely lasting over a year.

While the carrier has the potential to enter active service with the Chinese Navy in 2025, logistical challenges may extend this schedule.

There will be much discussion about potential Chinese aircraft carriers in the future.

One such project that is reportedly being considered is Type 004, a potential next-generation project.

The commencement of Fujian’s sea trial marks a new chapter in China’s naval capabilities, demonstrating the country’s resolve to expand its maritime force projection.

As the geopolitical landscape in the Indo-Pacific evolves, the introduction of modern naval assets such as the Fujian highlights the need for regional stakeholders to adjust and recalibrate their strategic priorities accordingly.

Reference: Free Press Journal

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