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China’s first real flattop is for power projection to global hegemony

China launched its first “flattop” aircraft carrier on June 17 which will greatly assist Chinese Communist Party ambitions for global power projection.
FPI / June 23, 2022

By Richard Fisher

On June 17, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) achieved a long-sought goal on its way to realizing its ambitions for global power projection when it launched its first real “flattop” or conventional take-off or landing (CTOL) aircraft carrier.

Also on that day the revelation of its name, “Fujian,” the Chinese province opposite Taiwan, served to remind that among its first major missions will be to complete the CCP’s near-term mission to destroy the democracy on Taiwan and to turn that island into a major military complex to further assist CCP ambitions to global hegemony.

The development of CTOL aircraft carriers has been a 40-year quest for the CCP and its People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

This quest included the purchase, theft or gathering of aircraft carrier technology from the Soviet Union/Ukraine, Britain, France and the United States, and was preceded by the rebuilding of a former Soviet ski-jump (non-catapult) carrier in the 2000s and the building of a modified copy in the 2010s.

Launched from Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, the Type 003 carrier Fujian is estimated to displace 80,000 tons and its flight deck may up to 1,039 feet long.

One notable advance for the Fujian is that it will be equipped with electromagnetic launch (EML) catapults instead of steam powered catapults, featuring them at the same time EML catapults emerged on the latest U.S.S. Ford class nuclear powered carriers.

EML takes up less space and can be more rapidly calibrated to launch aircraft of varying weights.

While component construction likely started as early as 2015, component assembly could be followed by commercial satellites from May 2020, with launching following in two years.

Chinese sources are not clear, but it is possible that one more conventionally-powered Type 003 aircraft carrier could be built before Jiangnan converts to building nuclear-powered carriers.

So far, Jiangnan is the only Chinese shipyard producing large flattop carriers, though it could produce two carriers simultaneously, meaning it is possible that the PLAN potentially could have ten carriers by the mid-2040s.

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FPI, Free Press International
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