By Philip Lenczycki
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy reportedly launched Asia’s largest aircraft carrier to date on Friday, according to Chinese state-run media.
China’s third aircraft carrier, Fujian, was launched by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation from the Jiangnan Shipyard on Shanghai’s Changxing Island, Chinese state-run media outlet Global Times reported, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation translation. The Fujian is reportedly the largest aircraft carrier any Asian country has ever manufactured, displacing 80,000 metric tons of water, Chinese state-run media outlet, China Daily, reported.
By comparison, the Nimitz-class of U.S. aircraft carriers, which includes the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Abraham Lincoln, all displace over 100,000 metric tons of water, according to the U.S. Naval Academy. In total, the U.S. Navy possesses 10 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, according to the U.S. Navy.
However, the PLA Navy possessed 355 ships as of November 2021 — the most of any country — and is allegedly slated to own 460 warships by 2030, according to the U.S. Naval Institute. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy reportedly had 297 warships in April 2021 and its most ambitious, yet potentially untenable, building plan would give the fleet 367 ships by 2052.
“[In selecting the Fujian aircraft carrier’s region of deployment, the PLA Navy] will thoroughly reflect upon the needs of protecting national sovereignty, security and development interests, as well as the aircraft carrier’s operational features as well as port security conditions before scientifically selecting the deployment location of the Fujian aircraft carrier,” Col. Liu Wensheng, PLA Navy spokesman, told Global Times, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation translation.
The launch of China’s third aircraft carrier arrives little over a month after the Chinese military conducted a large live-fire “reunification-by-force” military exercise around Taiwan and less than two weeks before the U.S. Navy and 25 other navies will begin the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) military exercise on June 29. RIMPAC will last over a month and take place between the Hawaiian Islands and southern California.
The official publication of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) confirmed the launch of the Fujian, stating that the warship is China’s first “catapult-type” aircraft carrier, meaning that fighter jets are assisted in their launch off the flight deck with an electromagnetic catapult.
The PLA confirmation also noted that the Fujian was “designed and built completely” by China. China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, was a Soviet ship that China purchased and refurbished, while China’s second aircraft carrier, Shandong, was reportedly modeled upon the Liaoning’s Soviet design.
Liu Pengyu, the spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy, told TheDCNF that China desires to build up its military to promote peace and stability.
“China is committed to the path of peaceful development and firmly pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature,” Liu said. “The possession of aircraft carriers will never change that.”
The U.S. Navy and Department of Defense did not respond immediately to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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