The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) revealed plans to build additional aircraft carriers for its Navy, while third such warship Fujian held propulsion tests.
On April 23, China celebrated the 74th founding anniversary of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy. From April 22-24, the service opened many naval bases along its coastal regions to the public during which it also displayed some of its powerful warships including the Type 052D destroyer Kaifeng and the Type 054A frigate Daqing.
Since the launch of the Fujian on June 17, 2022, the carrier has successfully carried out propulsion and mooring tests prior to its upcoming maiden voyage, government-owned China Central Television (CCTV) reported.
“To complete the propulsion test, the Fujian will leave dock and conduct a navigation test out in the sea,” Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Judging from the current progress, the navigation test will likely take place within this year, Song said.
The 80,000 ton-class Fujian is China's first aircraft carrier equipped with an electromagnetic aircraft launch and arrest system, making it more advanced than the country's first two carriers, the Liaoning and the Shandong, which are smaller and use ski-jump ramps to assist aircraft takeoffs with lower efficiency.
China's vast sea areas mean that three aircraft carriers alone cannot meet its demand, so it is certain that the country will build new carriers, CCTV said in its report.
Chinese naval expert Li Jie told the Global Times that
“if a country wants to deploy aircraft carriers effectively, it needs a certain number of them, because as a type of large warship, an aircraft carrier spends a lot of time in maintenance and training outside of combat readiness missions.”
The U.S. Navy keeps eleven 100,000 ton-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in active service. China's future aircraft carriers could also be nuclear powered, analysts said.
China is developing a carrier-based stealth fighter jet allegedly called the J-35, an improved version of the J-15 multirole fighter jet allegedly called the J-15B, an electronic warfare variant of the J-15 allegedly called the J-15D, and a carrier-based early warning aircraft allegedly called the KJ-600.
They will form a combination comparable to that of the U.S., which consists of the F-35C stealth fighter jet, the F/A-18E/F multirole fighter jet, the EA-18G electronic warfare aircraft and the E-2D early warning aircraft, observers said.
From April 8 to 10, the aircraft carrier group reportedly conducted intensive drills beyond the "first island chain," approaching the vicinity of Guam on the "second island chain" after completing Taiwan island encirclement drills from April 8 to 10.
This is the first time the aircraft carrier Shandong has conducted a far sea exercise since its commissioning in December 2019.