China’s Fujian aircraft carrier offers another look at advanced catapult

  • State broadcaster CCTV shows the ship’s electromagnetic catapult launch system from the side of the vessel
  • The ship is China’s third and most advanced aircraft carrier

China has released more footage of its most advanced aircraft carrier, with state broadcaster CCTV airing a side-on look at the vessel’s electromagnetic catapult launch system on the weekend.

It is the second time in a month that footage of the catapult has been shown, signalling confidence in the carrier’s progress, observers said.

Cao Weidong, a military analyst, told the broadcaster that the ship’s mooring tests went “completely normally”.

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The Fujian, launched in 2022 June, is the country’s third carrier and China’s first carrier equipped with electromagnetic catapults and arresting devices, which allow planes to be launched more frequently.

It is not known when the Fujian will start sea trials to test her systems and components, but Captain Yin Hongxin said last month that the goal was to establish “combat capabilities” as soon as possible.

China gives first official look at Fujian aircraft carrier's advanced  catapult launch system | South China Morning Post

The USS Gerald R Ford is the only other aircraft carrier in the world equipped with electromagnetic catapults.

Launched in 2013, it took four years before the US ship was commissioned, and another five years to depart for her first deployment in 2022 after years of trials. Its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System suffered a failure during her testing period in 2020.

Noting that the Gerald R Ford is nuclear powered while Fujian is conventionally powered, Cao said, “now [China] dares to conduct public tests, it shows that it is very successful”.

Newest Chinese aircraft carrier Fujian gives PLA an edge in Taiwan Strait:  analyst | South China Morning Post

Footage posted online suggests the People’s Liberation Army Navy has been testing how to place fighters on the deck.

“This is a carrier-based aircraft model with folded wings. It is not intended to catapult the aircraft, but to test how many carrier-based aircraft can be parked on the elevator at one time,” Cao said.

Shi Hong, a military analyst, told Shenzhen TV the footage offered more details about the carrier, including its electromagnetic catapult tracks.

Fujian Aircraft Carrier - Munafa Marketing

He added that the ship has more operational space on deck than the country’s other two aircraft carriers, the Shandong and Liaoning.

The footage also showed the Fujian away from its usual berthing position at Shanghai’s Jiangnan shipyard but it was not clear where.

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