China launched its third aircraft carrier on Friday in Shanghai, naming it after the eastern coastal province of Fujian.
Upon its completion, the gigantic ship will displace more than 80,000 metric tons of water, making it the largest and mightiest warship any Asian nation has ever built and also one of the world’s biggest naval vessels of all time.
According to the People’s Liberation Army Navy, the ship will use electromagnetic launch system, or electromagnetic catapult, to launch fixed-wing aircraft, which will give the carrier a much greater combat capability than its two predecessors that use a ramp to launch jets.
With a hull code of 18, the CNS Fujian is being built at China State Shipbuilding Corp’s Jiangnan Shipyard Group in Shanghai.
At a launch ceremony at the shipyard on Friday morning, the carrier was towed out of its dry dock as color stripes were fired along the dock to celebrate the moment.
In the next phase, the carrier will undergo mooring and sea trials to comprehensively test its overall capability and specific equipment, the PLA Navy said.
Currently, the PLA Navy operates two carriers – CNS Liaoning and CNS Shandong. Both of them have a standard displacement of around 50,000 tons and a conventional propulsion system, and use a ski jump mode for launching fixed-wing aircraft.
The Liaoning was refitted from the unfinished Soviet-era carrier Varyag. It was commissioned in September 2012, becoming the PLA Navy’s first aircraft carrier.
The Shandong, the nation’s first domestically developed aircraft carrier, has a basic design similar to that of the Liaoning but has many improvements such as larger carrying capacity of aircraft and optimized designs on the superstructure. It was unveiled in April 2017 and delivered to the PLA Navy in December 2019.
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