BEIJING, China – China has conducted the first landing of a fighter jet on its new aircraft carrier in a move that extends Beijing’s ability to project its growing military might in territorial disputes.
The Chinese-made J-15 made the successful landing on the Liaoning, a former Soviet carrier, during recent exercises, the defense ministry said in a report Sunday, November 25, on the flight tests.
The Liaoning went into service in September in a syambolic milestone for China’s growing military muscle that comes at a time when Beijing is increasingly embroiled in a series of territorial disputes with its neighbors.
China bought a stripped-down carrier from Ukraine nearly 10 years ago and refurbished it at the northeastern port of Dalian.
Construction of the vessel, formerly known as the Varyag, was commissioned by the former Soviet Union more than 20 years ago, but work halted with the sudden collapse of the Soviet bloc.
During the recent tests, highly technical cable landing technology was employed, the ministry said without going into details.
The take off of the J-15 was also successful, it added.
Since the carrier entered service, the crew have completed more than 100 training and test programs, the ministry said.
The Liaoning — named for the northeastern province which includes Dalian — is not expected to be fully operational for another three years at least. China is also working on building a fully domestically made carrier sometime in the future.
Over the past year, China has become increasingly assertive over its longtime maritime territorial claims as its economic and military power have expanded, causing rising anxiety among its neighbors.
Tensions in the East China Sea have risen dramatically in recent months over islands known as the Diaoyus to Beijing and claimed by Tokyo as the Senkakus.
China is locked in a similar row with Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea. – Agence France-Presse