China lands J-15 jet on Liaoning aircraft carrier

The Chinese-built J-15 fighter bomber carried out the manoeuvre during exercises earlier this week

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China has successfully landed a jet fighter on its new aircraft carrier for the first time, officials say.

A Chinese-made J-15 fighter landed on the 300m (990ft) former Soviet carrier during recent exercises, China's defence ministry said on Sunday.

The Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier, entered into service in September.

China says the vessel has had extensive sea trials and will increase its capacity to defend state interests.

Analysts say the aircraft carrier will allow Beijing to help project its military might in territorial disputes.

China's state TV showed a hook on the rear of the J-15 catching hold of a cable on the deck of the vessel to slow the plane to a halt during the drill.

Analysis

The images of the carrier Liaoning recovering a J-15 jet fighter using the traditional arrestor hook and cables to bring the aircraft to a rapid halt, mark a significant moment: China's public arrival as an operator of carrier-borne air power. Nonetheless the Chinese Navy still has much to do before it can be seen as having a truly operational carrier capability.

Considerably more training will be needed to create a cadre of air-crew and technicians to keep its carrier-borne jets flying in a variety of sea conditions. China will also have to create the operational practices and procedures, not just to establish a carrier air-wing made up of a variety of specialised aircraft but it will also have to develop the ability to operate its carrier alongside other vessels in a dedicated battle group.

The Liaoning is thus largely a training carrier but a significant pointer as to the direction China's sea-power is heading.

China had not previously announced that its navy possessed such highly technical landing technology, according to the AFP news agency.

The J-15 can carry anti-ship, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles as well as precision-guided bombs, China's official news agency Xinhua reported, citing unnamed naval sources.

Sea row with Japan

Named after the province where it was refitted, the Liaoning is a refurbished Soviet ship purchased from Ukraine.

The aircraft carrier's development comes at a time when Japan and other countries in the region have expressed concern at China's growing naval strength.

China and Japan are embroiled in a row over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Several South-east Asian nations are also at odds with China over overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The country's Communist leaders are spending billions modernising their armed forces so they can project military power far beyond China's borders.

'Floating casino'

The Liaoning, formerly known as the Varyag, was constructed in the 1980s for the Soviet navy but was never completed.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Varyag sat in Ukraine's dockyards.

The 300m (990ft) Liaoning is a refurbished Soviet ship purchased from Ukraine

A Chinese company with links to China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) bought the ship just as Soviet warships were being cut for scrap.

It said it wanted to turn the Varyag into a floating casino in Macau and in 2001 the ship was towed to China.

The Chinese military confirmed in June 2011 that it was being refitted to serve as the nation's first aircraft carrier.

Aircraft carriers compared

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