In news-China has recently unveiled its first indigenous aircraft carrier, the new-generation Fujian.
- The Fujian has been named after China’s eastern coastal province which lies across from Taiwan.
- It is touted to be the most-advanced aircraft carrier so far.
- With the launch of the Fujian, China now has the most number of aircraft carriers after the U.S.
- The Fujian joins two other carriers currently operated by China — Shandong (Type 001), commissioned in 2019, and the Liaoning (Type 002), bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998.
- Fujian was completely designed and built domestically.
- It was built by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited.
- It’s displacement is 80,000 tonnes, much more than the existing Chinese carriers, and comparable to U.S. Navy aircraft carriers.
- The Type 003 carrier(Fujian) is also significantly more technologically advanced than its predecessors Shandong and Liaoning.
- It is fitted with the latest launch technology — the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS), first developed by the U.S. Navy.
- It also has a straight flat-top flight deck for take-offs and landings; The two existing vessels use a ski jump-style ramp.
- The Fujian is a part of the military modernisation plan of President Xi Jinping .
- The Chinese President has vowed to build a modern force that can rival the U.S. military by 2027 and become a “blue water” Navy, one that operates globally .
What is EMALS?
- An aircraft onboard a carrier needs extra help to get airborne since the length of the runway on deck is insufficient to achieve the speed needed for takeoff.
- One of the ways to provide this extra push is by the use of catapults.
- Catapult Assisted Take-off But Arrested Recovery or (CATOBAR) is one such system. In this, an aircraft takes off from a completely flat deck with the help of catapults.
- Once the catapult is released, the aircraft attached to the catapult moves forward with great speed in a short time, which helps it to gain the speed required to take off before it reaches the end of the runway.
- There are two types of catapult systems — steam-powered, and electromagnetic ones called EMALS.
- While the former uses steam pressure to fire catapults, EMALS uses linear induction motors. The electromagnetic force generated is used to launch the aircraft.
- Compared to steam catapults, EMALS is more reliable, requires less maintenance, recharges faster , doesn’t take up much space on a carrier and is energy-efficient.
- The electromagnetic system can launch a wide variety of aircraft weights and can be used on different platforms due to its flexible architecture.
- It also reduces the stress on the aircraft during take-off. The system, however, is expensive.
- As of now, USS Gerald R. Ford carriers of the U.S. Navy use the advanced catapult system.
- The Type 003 carrier will be able to launch fixed-wing aircraft with heavier payloads and more fuel with the use of EMALS.
EMALS’s usage in India-
- In 2017, the U.S. provided India with its EMALS technology, developed by the U.S. defence company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.
- The state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited in Bengaluru is reportedly working on an EMALS model that could be tested for CATOBAR operations on Indian warships in the near future.
- Presently, India’s sole aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya works on a Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery, or STOBAR mechanism with an angular ski-jump.
- India’s second aircraft carrier named INS Vikrant, set to be commissioned later this year, will use the CATOBAR system to launch aircraft.