PLA's 3rd carrier Fujian holds mooring tests according to plan: MOD
Published: Nov 30, 2023 07:33 PM
The <em>Fujian</em>, the third aircraft carrier of China, undergoes outfitting and mooring trials in Shanghai in early 2023. Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television

The Fujian, the third aircraft carrier of China, undergoes outfitting and mooring trials in Shanghai in early 2023. Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television

China's third aircraft carrier, the Fujian, is holding mooring tests and will progress its construction steadily according to plan, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense (MOD) revealed on Thursday, amid speculations by foreign media reports saying that the Fujian recently tested its electromagnetic catapult system with a test vehicle in preparation for its upcoming maiden voyage.

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, an MOD spokesperson, disclosed the information at a regular press conference on Thursday in response to a question from the Global Times.

Mooring tests aim to check the completeness and reliability of the building and construction of the hull, the propulsion system, the mechanical equipment, the electrical devices and other devices, and to make necessary adjustments to ensure the ship can sail, Zhang Xuefeng, a Chinese military expert, told the Global Times on Thursday.

When the mooring tests are completed, the navigation tests, or sea trials, may begin, Zhang said.

Citing a video recorded from an airplane flying over the shipyard facilities in Shanghai where the carrier is currently berthed, US media outlet Newsweek reported on Monday that the Fujian has trialed its catapult aircraft launch system.

The video showed the launch and subsequent drop of a test vehicle from one of the catapult positions on the Fujian, Newsweek said.

The report also said that the testing marked another significant step toward the carrier's full completion.

Fu Qianshao, another Chinese military expert, told the Global Times on Thursday that the Fujian is the first Chinese aircraft carrier to be equipped with electromagnetic catapults and arresting devices.  He said that this is a new and complex technology that requires testing during the mooring tests before the navigation tests.

Launching test vehicles can examine the catapults' parameters including power and acceleration, which will provide bases for the Fujian to eventually host aircraft takeoff and landing tests during future navigation tests, Fu said.

The Newsweek report also speculated that the Fujian could soon make its maiden voyage for sea trials, citing recent satellite imagery analysis that implied the carrier had been relocated from its original position.

Chinese military expert and TV commentator Song Zhongping agrees that the maiden voyage for the Fujian is approaching.

The presence of a carrier support ship near the Fujian was reported by US-based think tank Center for Strategic & International Studies on November 21.

Song said it indicates that the carrier's sea trial is not far away.

Experts said that navigation tests will usually examine comprehensively the warship's subsystems including the propulsion, radar, communications, weapons, aviation and catapult systems at sea.

Usually, sea trials for aircraft carriers take about one year, and as the Fujian features many new technologies, it cannot be ruled out that its testing could be longer than that of China's first domestically developed carrier, the Shandong, observers said.

With a full displacement of more than 80,000 tons, the Fujian is China's first carrier equipped with electromagnetic catapults and arresting devices.