China is close to making a big breakthrough in terms of the capacity of its newly launched aircraft carrier Fujian.
China had two aircraft carriers -- Liaoning and the Shandong -- when it launched the highly advanced, domestically developed aircraft carrier Fujian in June last year.
Better Combat Capabilities
According to the latest reports, Fujian has probably become the first aircraft carrier in the world that can launch 5th-generation stealth fighters from its decks.
The combat capabilities of PLA's flagship aircraft carrier will be enhanced when it adds this unique feature. According to an earlier report, the PLA is not expected to get the delivery of Fujian before the next two to three years as the vessel is expected to have many more sea trials.
Recently, a recruitment video of the naval unit of the People's Liberation Army displayed what looked like a stealth aircraft or drone, looking similar to the J-31/FC-31 stealth fighter or an FH-97A Loyal Wingman drone, on the deck of the aircraft carrier.
High Value Addition
The J-31/FC-31 is a high value addition to the PLA as it has a 2,000-kilometer range and an operational ceiling of 15 kilometers. Its top speed is Mach 1.8 or 2,205 kilometers per hour, while the maximum takeoff weight is 28 tons.
The fighter can carry 2,268-kilogram of weapons, including six air-to-air missiles or air-to-ground armaments, in its internal weapons bay.
The Asia Times also discusses an interesting aspect of the J-31 stealth fighter aircraft. The outlet cites reports that said the strategically important Chinese jet was the result of a complex espionage program that targeted the US F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters.
Product of Espionage?
"Given the J-31/FC-31's design history, Aviacionline notes in a January 2023 article that the aircraft was the product of China's espionage campaign 12 years ago, which managed to steal several terabytes of confidential information about US systems including blueprints and other relevant data about the F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters," the article states.
Fujian aircraft carrier boasts of advanced tech such as electromagnetic catapults. This device enables heavier aircraft like early warning aircraft and cargo planes to operate on the carrier. These catapults are superior to their steam counterparts because they are lighter, use less resources, recharge faster and can change power output to match the launch needs of different types of aircraft, Chinese state mouthpiece Global Times explained.