The Chinese regime officially launched its third aircraft carrier on June 17. This new aircraft carrier is named after the province opposite Taiwan, Fujian.
Reuters commented that by this movement, China’s regime is sending a statement of intent to rivals as it modernizes its military.
At the launching ceremony, dozens of navy personnel lined up in front of Fujian and sang the national anthem. Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, attended this ceremony.
Liaoning is China’s first aircraft carrier which was remade from a Soviet-made hull. Its second carrier, Shandong, commissioned in late 2019, was constructed based on Liaoning.
According to WSJ, both vessels lack aircraft-launching catapults that are standard on American carriers. Instead, the Fujian will still deploy jets using “ski-jump” ramps that limit the payloads that aircraft can carry.
With its electromagnetic catapult technology, the Fujian provides increased operating capability. However, compared to the U.S. vessels, Fujian is smaller, while American carriers of the Nimitz and Gerald can carry more aircraft and sail far longer without refueling. In this regard, some Western military experts said the Chinese aircraft carrier is likely to be less capable than the U.S. vessels.
According to Washington Post, Chinese military analysts and bloggers have touted the carrier as “China’s answer to the USS Gerald R. Ford.” Still, much of its capabilities remain unknown. The Ford, commissioned in 2017, was the world’s largest and most advanced carrier at the time.
Collin Koh, an expert on the People’s Liberation Army Navy at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said, “There’s extremely scant info emanating on the Fujian and, for that matter, the PLA Navy’s carrier program. The exact capabilities and their performance are shrouded in much secrecy.”
Analysts told the Post that it would take a long time before Fujian could go into operation. The matter depends on the time it takes to finish the flight deck, install equipment, and train personnel and pilots. That’s not to mention numerous sea trials before officially setting off to the sea.