China unveiled its third aircraft carrier on Friday in Shanghai, naming it after the eastern coastal province of Fujian.
Upon its completion, the gigantic ship will displace more than 80,000 metric tons of water, making it the largest and mightiest warship any Asian nation has ever built, and also one of the world's biggest naval vessels of all time.
According to the People's Liberation Army Navy, the ship will use an electromagnetic launch system, or electromagnetic catapult, to launch fixed-wing aircraft, which will give it a much greater combat capability than its two predecessors, which use ramps to launch jets.
At its launch ceremony at China State Shipbuilding Corp's Jiangnan Shipyard Group in Shanghai on Friday, the CNS Fujian was towed out of its dry dock as color stripes were fired along the dock to celebrate the occasion.
General Xu Qiliang, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, and Admiral Dong Jun, commander of the PLA Navy, took part in the ceremony.
In the next phase, the carrier will undergo mooring and sea trials to comprehensively test its overall capabilities and specific equipment, the PLA Navy said.
Senior Captain Liu Wensheng, a spokesman for the PLA Navy, said on Friday evening that the home port of the Fujian will be decided based on a host of factors including the nation's security needs, the ship's tasks and candidate ports' support capacity.
The PLA Navy currently operates two carriers－CNS Liaoning and CNS Shandong. Both of these have a standard displacement of around 50,000 tons and a conventional propulsion system, and use a ski jump mode for launching fixedwing aircraft.
The Liaoning was refitted from the unfinished Soviet-era carrier Varyag. It was commissioned in September 2012, becoming the PLA Navy's first aircraft carrier.
The Shandong, the nation's first domestically developed aircraft carrier, has a basic design similar to that of the Liaoning but has many improvements such as a greater capacity to carry aircraft and optimized design of its superstructure. It was unveiled in April 2017 and delivered to the PLA Navy in December 2019.
Compared with its two predecessors, the Fujian is much bigger and heavier, and has a larger flight deck and a smaller superstructure.
Those differences mean that it will be able to carry more aircraft and fuel and will be capable of deploying and recovering more fighter jets in combat operations. Its greater carrying capacity also means that the ship can sail further, operate longer and has stronger fighting power, according to experts.
In addition to the J-15 fighter jet, which is now the spearhead of Chinese carrier battle groups, the new carrier is expected to have new advanced combat planes or drones.