As Fujian begins sea trials, Chinese Navy halfway to goal of 6 aircraft carriers by 2035

On June 17, 2022, the Jiangnan shipyards launched the third aircraft carrier intended for the Chinese Navy. It was the largest Chinese military ship, but also the largest non-American military ship in history.

This new ship brought together a considerable number of innovations for the Chinese navy and industry, including the carriage of catapults, which are electromagnetic, rather than a Skijump. It is therefore hardly surprising that it was necessary to wait almost two years for the ship to begin its sea trials, whereas only one year was necessary for the Shandong, the second Chinese aircraft carrier and the first to be manufactured exclusively national.

According to the Chinese press, the Fujian has just started its sea trials on April 30, just a few days after the Chinese Navy celebrated its 75th anniversary, paving the way for the entry into service of this ship, and its onboard air group, likely to change the balance of naval power in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

The Fujian aircraft carrier, a considerable technological and operational step for the Chinese Navy

However, the Fujian has little in common with the first two Chinese aircraft carriers, derived from the Russian Kuznetsov class. If the three ships are similar in length, 305 m for the Liaoning, 315 m for the Shandong and 316 m for the Fujian, the new ship is considerably more imposing, with an estimated displacement of more than 85 tonnes, compared to 000 to 67 000 tonnes for the two previous ships.

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As Fujian begins sea trials, Chinese Navy halfway to goal of 6 aircraft carriers by 2035 4

It also has a much larger flight deck and more spacious aircraft hangars, making it possible to increase the fleet of aircraft on board to reach 50 aircraft, compared to 20 to 25 on those which precede it. It will also be able to double the number of daily aviation maneuvers, to reach 80 rotations per day, partly thanks to the three EMALS catapults which equip the ship.

The Fujian is powered by full electric propulsion, differentiating energy production, on the one hand, from propulsion by electric turbines, on the other. This solution makes it possible to free up space in the hull, to better manage the production of energy and electricity on board the ship, but also to anticipate the next stage targeted for Chinese aircraft carriers, in this case, propulsion. nuclear.

An onboard air group modeled on that of American aircraft carriers

In the air domain, Fujian will be equipped with a completely renewed air group, much more efficient than the J-15 and Z-8 which arm Chinese aircraft carriers today. This will, in fact, use the new J-35, an aircraft considered to belong to the 5th generation of combat aircraft, as well as the J-15T, a multi-purpose two-seater version of the current J-15. If the Z-8 will remain the heavy maneuvering helicopter aboard the aircraft carrier, it will also carry the new Z-20 helicopter, inspired by the American Sea Hawk.

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As Fujian begins sea trials, Chinese Navy halfway to goal of 6 aircraft carriers by 2035 5

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