Secret Chinese warship leaked in Fujian aircraft carrier photo

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The inaugural sea trial of China’s aircraft carrier Fujian heralds a new chapter for the People’s Liberation Army [PLA] Navy. What caught many off guard was the inadvertent “leak” of high-definition video footage and photos shared by CCTV and other state-run Chinese media on the same day. 

Photo credit: Twitter

As the Fujian navigated the Yangtze River, official media snapped a series of high-resolution aerial photos. Once these images hit the Internet, eagle-eyed netizens noticed a critical detail in the upper left corner: an unfinished large ship docked at the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard. 

This sparked discussions in the Western world, with many speculating that this could be the next-gen amphibious ship of the Chinese navy, possibly the first Type 076. In essence, as one wave [Fujian] subsides, another [Type 076] rises. However, this theory remains unconfirmed by Western analysts, and Chinese officials have been tight-lipped.

A UAF aircraft carrier?

From commercial satellite images, this vessel bears a resemblance to a traditional amphibious landing craft, complete with a straight deck and island structure. However, it’s considerably shorter, measuring only about 100 to 110 meters in length. In comparison, the Thai Navy’s aircraft carrier Chakri Naruebet, known as the world’s smallest aircraft carrier, is still significantly larger. This raises the question: what role does such a compact ship play? 

If this vessel is indeed an unmanned aircraft carrier, its impact on the combat capabilities of the Chinese navy could be revolutionary, potentially altering the dynamics of warfare with the United States! 

Unmanned aircraft carriers offer several key advantages over traditional carriers. These seven main features not only enhance combat effectiveness but could also redefine future warfare. Curious about how? The Chinese media outlet Sohu shares multiple intriguing possibilities, which we’ve summarized for you below:

Photo credit: Sohu

High-level electronic warfare or suicide drones

The Chinese aircraft carrier boasts advanced technology that simulates enemy electronic systems, especially UAV combat capabilities. This dual-purpose tech not only provides robust training and response strategies during peacetime but can also effectively disrupt enemy electronics in wartime scenarios. 

In information warfare, mastering the electronic battlefield is crucial for gaining initiative and air superiority, directly influencing the outcome of decisive battles. 

Photo credit: Sohu

Suicide drones have demonstrated enormous value in modern warfare due to their stealth and precision strike capabilities. The high control precision of these drones means they can perform tasks such as targeted clearance and obstacle crossing effectively, even in complex and dynamic battlefield environments. This poses significant threats to adversaries in future conflicts involving the United States.

High-frequency communication system

China’s UAV aircraft carrier features a high-bandwidth communication system that enables remote and precise control of extensive UAV swarms. This dual capability in force quality and quantity allows Chinese aircraft carriers to effectively counter large enemy attacks with larger drone groups, which is crucial for network-centric and electronic warfare.

Practical training

Modern warfare demands extensive combat experience. China’s aircraft carriers utilize simulated combat training technology to conduct realistic tactical training at sea, enhancing their operational and emergency response capabilities.

Simulation or Artificial Intelligence

By simulating enemy signals, China’s UAV aircraft carriers can conduct extremely realistic peacetime training. This type of simulation builds a strong foundation for rapid and accurate wartime responses. When facing technologically advanced adversaries, such as the US military, signal simulation is expected to play a critical role in electronic warfare. 

Photo credit: Sohu

Drones equipped with artificial intelligence technology will operate with greater intelligence, possessing the ability to identify, evade, and autonomously attack. This integration of artificial intelligence, drones, and missiles offers a cost-effective and efficient solution for future missions. It’s particularly impactful for tactical operations in urban or other complex environments, carrying significant strategic importance.

Joint combat capabilities

The design of China’s unmanned aerial vehicle [UAV] aircraft carrier emphasizes seamless communication and coordination with large surface battle groups. In conflict zones like the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait, these small unmanned carriers can swiftly deploy “swarms” of drones to disrupt and potentially disable enemy defense systems targeting sea, air, and shore assets. This integrated combat capability significantly enhances the fleet’s overall effectiveness. 

In a broader sense, China’s navy is progressing steadily toward greater informational, intelligence, and diversification. The synergy between new manned aircraft carriers and their unmanned counterparts not only boosts combat capabilities but also expands strategic options for future conflicts. 

Considering current development trends, drones, and artificial intelligence are poised to play pivotal roles in future military operations. China’s navy is clearly leading the charge in this domain. As we look ahead, it’s reasonable to anticipate that the Chinese Navy will seek to secure effective oceanic control. Holding a strategic advantage for Beijing in the information warfare arena is also a distinct possibility. 

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