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China's third aircraft carrier begins maiden sea trials

China's third aircraft carrier, seen here as it embarked on its maiden sea trials on 1 May 2024. (Pu Haiyang/VCG via Getty Images)

China's third aircraft carrier has embarked on its maiden sea trials, state-controlled Xinhua News Agency announced in its report on 1 May.

The carrier, Fujian , left the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai at around 0800 h local time on the day of the announcement. These trials will primarily focus on testing the “reliability and stability of the aircraft carrier's propulsion and electrical systems”, reads the Xinhua report.

“Since its launch in June 2022, the Fujian has completed its mooring trials, outfitting work, and equipment adjustments. It has met the technical requirements for sea trials,” the report added.

Fujian was launched by Jiangnan Shipyard in June 2022. It is slated to be the People's Liberation Army Navy's (PLAN's) third aircraft carrier overall, but it is the service's first vessel to be configured for catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) aircraft operations.

Videos circulating on Chinese social media accounts suggest that the test of the carrier's catapult system began in November 2023. These videos show the carrier launching apparatuses more commonly known as ‘dead loads' into the water just ahead of where it is berthed on Changxing Island.

China's first two carriers, Liaoning and Shandong , were each built with ski-jumps and configured for short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) operations.

Fujian has an overall length of about 320 m and its flight deck has a width of about 80 m at the widest point. The carrier has been equipped with three electromagnetic catapults and one arresting cable-equipped oblique runway.

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