China's new aircraft carrier to soon undergo maiden sea trials
The Chinese Navy's massive new aircraft carrier, the CNS Fujian, is expected to head to sea for the first time this year, the ship's executive officer said in an interview with state media, the media reported.
In a report on the interview published by state-run China Daily, Senior Capt. Qian Shumin did not give an exact date for when the aircraft carrier will undergo its first sea excursions, saying only that "the trials will contribute to the realization of the centenary goals of the People's Liberation Army", CNN reported.
That centenary, which comes in 2027, was referenced by Chinese leader Xi Jinping in October as a deadline for the PLA to meet its Modernization goals, CNN reported.
The Fujian is the largest warship China has ever built and bringing it into operation is a key component in the PLA Navy's objectives.
The ship was launched with great fanfare on June 17 and has been in the final stages of construction at a Shanghai shipyard.
Hawaii-based analyst Carl Schuster, a former US Navy captain, said he expects the Fujian's first trials to come in the spring.
Displacing around 80,000 metric tons of water, according to the China Daily report, the Fujian is 50 per cent larger than China's two current in-service carriers and puts the PLA Navy in the league of supercarriers, like the 100,000-ton US Nimitz-class ships, CNN reported.
It also shows China matching US carrier technology.
China's other two carriers, the Liaoning and the Shandong, are based on outdated Soviet technology.
Those two carriers used the ski-jump launching system, in which where planes simply take off from a slight ramp, while US carriers use a more advanced catapult system to launch their aircraft.
And the Fujian uses an electromagnetic catapult system, something the US has only on its newest operational carrier, the USS Gerald Ford, CNN reported.