China has launched the Fujian, the country’s second domestically-built aircraft carrier and the third to be introduced into the service of People’s Liberation Army Navy.
The launch ceremony took place at China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) shipyard in Shanghai in the morning of June 17, 2022.
According to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, the carrier is named after the Fujian Province. The ship is expected to perform extensive sea trials before entering service in 2023.
It is China’s first carrier to be equipped with a catapult to launch aircraft, marking significant progress in comparison with two previous ones that relied on a ski-jump.
The carrier’s electromagnetic catapult should allow it to launch heavier aircraft, meaning more payload for fighters and attack jets, as well as new types of airplanes.
It is also expected to become the first to operate the FC-31, China’s second fifth-generation fighter jet whose capacity to operate from carriers has been hinted at by the country’s state media.
If true, it will make China one of the few countries that operate carrier-borne stealth aircraft, along with the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Italy.
There have been no official announcements as to what kind of aircraft Fujian will carry.
Unconfirmed reports state that the construction of the ship started in 2015, although it was officially announced only several years later.
According to Xinhua, the Fujian’s displacement is over 80,000 tonnes, which makes it second only to the Gerald R. Ford-class and Nimitz-class nuclear supercarriers operated by the US Navy.
While significantly larger than other conventionally-powered aircraft carriers, Fujian uses integrated electric propulsion, with China’s first nuclear-powered carrier, currently known as the Type 004, still under construction.