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

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”.

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.

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”.

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

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China airs footage of Fujian aircraft carrier featuring advanced catapult launch system

China airs footage of Fujian aircraft carrier featuring advanced catapult launch system

“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.

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.

PLA watches as US warship sails through Taiwan Strait in ‘provocative’ move

Taiwan’s defence ministry has warned that Fujian would pose a “substantial threat” to the island in the event of a cross-strait conflict.

The PLA plans to have six aircraft carrier groups by 2035.

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