China’s Fujian Aircraft Carrier Sets Sail for Sea Trials

China’s newest aircraft carrier, the Fujian, embarked on its inaugural sea trials from Shanghai, signalling a significant step toward bolstering the world’s largest naval fleet. Departing from the Jiangnan Shipyard, the trials are slated to take place in the East China Sea, approximately 130 kilometres away. These trials, crucial for assessing the carrier’s propulsion and electrical systems, mark a milestone for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

Launched in 2022, the Fujian, with a displacement of 80,000 metric tons, surpasses the PLAN’s existing carriers, the Shandong and Liaoning. Notably, its electromagnetic catapult system enables it to launch larger aircraft, extending its combat range and enhancing the PLAN’s “blue-water” capabilities.

Although the Fujian’s catapult system aligns it with the US Navy’s USS Gerald R Ford, the latter maintains advantages in power, size, and capacity. With nuclear propulsion and larger tonnage, US carriers boast greater endurance and aircraft capacity.

Despite these disparities, the Fujian’s sea trials underscore China’s strides in naval aviation, positioning it among top-tier carrier-capable navies. Analysts anticipate the trials to span up to a year, with commissioning expected by 2026. As China’s naval force burgeons, the Fujian stands as a prominent symbol of its maritime prowess, with plans for further expansion on the horizon.

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