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China’s naval ambitions took a leap forward with the maiden voyage of its third aircraft carrier, the Fujian. This marks a significant step in China’s quest to challenge US dominance in the Indo-Pacific. The Fujian, the largest and most advanced Chinese carrier yet, boasts the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) for enhanced aircraft operations.

These developments are likely to prompt a response from India, which currently operates two modestly sized carriers. The Fujian’s capabilities could push India to consider building a third carrier, potentially exceeding the 60,000-ton displacement of its current vessels.

The Fujian’s sea trials signify China’s continuous naval modernization program. This advanced carrier, with its longer runway and EMALS technology, will enable China to project greater power at sea. Experts believe this is a strategic move to bolster China’s claims in the disputed South China Sea and assert its influence in the wider Indo-Pacific region.

India, with its growing strategic interests and a long coastline to defend, may feel compelled to respond to China’s expanding naval prowess. The Fujian’s capabilities could reignite discussions within India about the necessity of a larger, more robust carrier force.

Proponents of a bigger Indian carrier argue that it would provide a stronger deterrent against regional threats and enhance India’s ability to project power in the Indian Ocean region. A larger carrier could accommodate a greater number of advanced fighter jets and allow for more complex operations at sea.

Building a mega-carrier is a complex and expensive undertaking. India would need to address significant logistical and technological hurdles. Furthermore, the strategic implications of such a move and its impact on regional dynamics need careful consideration.

Whether India decides to pursue a larger carrier remains to be seen. The Fujian’s maiden voyage, however, serves as a reminder of the evolving naval landscape in the Indo-Pacific. India’s strategic response in the coming years will be closely watched by regional and global powers alike.