The tests involved the launch of a dummy vehicle representing the aircraft, such as fighter jets and carrier-based AWACS, in terms of weight. Type 003’s EMALS-type (Electromagnetic Launch System) catapult has to prove capable of launching tens of tons of payload to high speeds for the new carrier to move on to tests with actual aircraft.
EMALS catapults offer significant advantages compared to traditional steam catapults of older-generation aircraft carriers. These can be listed as smaller, higher degree of force adjustability, eliminating excessive force on aircraft, and higher energy efficiency.
The steam catapult systems apply a sudden force on the landing gear, which may cause fatigue. The nature of EMALS prevents such malpractice. Compared to steam ones, the EMALS brings operational advantages to the carrier as it launches more aircraft in a shorter period of time.
Type 003 Fujian is a critical step in the roadmap for aircraft carriers for China. China’s other carriers, Type 001 Liaoning and Type 002 Shandong, use STOBAR (Short Take-off but Arrested Landing) operation, while Fujian is the first to use CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take-off but Arrested Landing) with an EMALS.