China already has its long-awaited new aircraft carrier: Fujian, its largest warship with cutting-edge technology

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China goes one step further to equip itself with what will be its new great titan of the seas, the aircraft carrier CNS Fujiana warship named after the coastal province located off Taiwan and in which works since 2018 with a clear objective: to reinforce its naval muscle to reduce the gap with the US. Once it is operational, it will become the third aircraft carrier in the country, although with characteristics that far outweigh to those of its two predecessors, Liaoning and Shandong.

During an interview granted this week to the China Central Television (CCTV) and of which the state media echoes china dailythe executive officer of the ship Qian Shummin has advanced that Fujian will go to sea for the first time this year for trials.

Although Shummin did not specify dates or detail the tests, it is known that the objective is for the trials to contribute “to the centenary goals of People’s Liberation Army”, anniversary that will be celebrated in 2027. On Tuesday the analyst Carl Schuster, former captain of the United States Navy, went a little further and outlined a schedule in statements to .

Pull out war muscle

According to his calculations, the first tests will start in March to examine the basic engineering and maneuverability of the ship. The testing phase will be extended in total —esteem— for about 18 months, which would allow the Fujian to be operational by the fall of next year.

Shummin’s interview comes six months after China presented the Fujian in style coinciding with its launching ceremony, in June, at the Jiangnan Shipyard Group facility in Shanghai. Then—as she was towed out of the dry dock— the government was already advancing that it should pass different tests “in order to test thoroughly their general capabilities and specific equipment”. The new aircraft carrier carried under construction since 2018.

The official media emphasize the leap that Fujian will mean for the Asian giant’s naval force. The aircraft carrier, they insist, will be the largest and most powerful warship ever built by the country. Upon completion, Beijing claims that she will displace more than 80,000 metric tons of water, well above the current vessels CNS Liaoning and CNS Shandong, with standard displacements of approximately 50,000 tons. They also highlight her technology.

The specialized website Navy Recognition provides some details more precise than its class, the Type 003 —Fujian will be the first of the “family” aircraft carriers— it will measure 300 meters in lengthalthough more recent calculations would raise that mark slightly, to 316m, with a deck width of 76m and a greater displacement capacity of around 100,000 tons.

One of the great peculiarities of the Fujian, however, will be its electromagnetic system for the launch of fixed-wing aircraft, which —claims the Chinese Ministry of Defense— will give you a much higher combat capability than your predecessors, which use the ski jump launch system. The detail is more important than it may seem: the design that incorporates the two current Chinese aircraft carriers is obsolete, which prevents them from launching heavy aircraft and decisively conditions the weapons that can be carried on board during the flight.

The Liaoning, the first aircraft carrier of the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army (EPL), was refitted from an unfinished Soviet-era ship. It was commissioned in September 2012. The second, the Shandong, has already been developed in the country, although with a basic design similar to that of the Liaoning that was completed with multiple pluses, such as a greater capacity to transport aircraft and an improvement in the design of its structure. China submitted it in April 2017.

“Compared to its predecessors, the Fujian is much bigger and heavier and has a larger flight deck and smaller superstructure. Those differences mean it will be able to carry more aircraft and fuel and be able to deploy and recover more combat aircraft in operations. Its increased cargo capacity also means the ship can sail further, operate longer, and have greater combat power.” stood out in june an article collected on the website of the Ministry of Defense. In addition to the J-15, it is expected to incorporate other models and drones.

“The goal is to strike a strategic balance with the United States in the western Pacific, as well as consolidate control of the South China Sea,” points out Hsu Yen-chia researcher at the Council for Strategic Studies in Taipei, to Financial Times in June. The British newspaper assures that the objective of the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army is to have six aircraft carriers in the medium term, by 2035, compared to the fleet of 11 vessels of the US Navy.

In its efforts, in addition to manufacturing ships, China faces challenges which it will have to face, such as the need to have qualified sailors and adequate aircraft or the very introduction of a technology that in its day was already a challenge for the US.

Cover image: Ministry of National Defense The People’s Republic of China/ LI GANG/XINHUA

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Written by Editor TLN

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