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China’s Fujian aircraft carrier departs for maiden sea trials

China’s third aircraft carrier, the Fujian, sets out for maiden sea trials from Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard in east China’s Shanghai, 1 May 2024. Photo: Li Yun/Xinhua

The Fujian, third aircraft carrier of the People’s Republic of China, has taken to open water for its maiden sea trials.

The Fujian, third aircraft carrier of the People’s Republic of China, has taken to open water for its maiden sea trials.

The 316-metre-long Type 003 class aircraft carrier, named after Fujian province, has previously completed mooring trials, outfitting work, and equipment adjustments before heading away from a dock in east China’s Shanghai on 1 May this year.

The sea trials are expected to evaluate the aircraft carrier’s propulsion and electrical systems, as it heads towards official deployment status.


The Fujian was originally built by Jiangnan Shipyard for the People’s Liberation Army Navy and launched on 17 June 2022.

It is expected to be fielding steam turbines and electromagnetic catapults with an integrated power system. In addition, it is expected to carry more than 50 aircraft including Shenyang J-15 and J-15D multi-role fighters, and J-35 twin-engine carrier-borne stealth fighter jets.

The PRC Ministry of National Defense (MND) also recently announced opposition to international interference and agitation in the South China Sea.

“Drawing forces outside the region or countries not directly concerned into the issue will only further complicate the situation and make it harder to solve,” according to MND spokesperson Senior Colonel Wu Qian.

“China always advocates the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security.

“We believe differences should be properly handled through dialogue and consultation among countries in the region.

“We oppose external interference, muscle flexing, provocations and harassment in the South China Sea, and oppose piecing together exclusive circles or bloc confrontation.

“The Chinese military is closely following relevant moves (from countries such as the United States, Japan, and the Philippines), and will resolutely respond with effective measures. We will never allow anyone to sow chaos [in] the South China Sea.”

In April this year, the PRC Foreign Ministry also announced an initial group of female pilot trainees from the carrier-based aircraft of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy had completed their inaugural solo flights.

Trainees participated in multiple solo flight sessions, training and study courses, aviation theory, aviation emergency survival training, simulator flights, ground flight preparations, and advanced aircraft training.

Those trainees (university graduates recruited in 2023) are now reportedly cleared for independently piloting an aircraft and conducting flights, following the training under the guidance of the PRC’s Naval Aviation University.

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