China was able to land a J-15 jet fighter on its first aircraft carrier. The landing was one of a series of operational tests of the Liaoning, a Soviet-made ship refurbished to serve as an aircraft carrier.
The Liaoning was delivered to the People's Liberation Army back on September 25th. The carrier will help China project its military power on the high seas. China Central Television showed the Chinese-built J-15 fighter's tail hook engaging a cable on the carrier's deck. The technology used in the landing was developed by China. Many military experts thought that it would not be ready this year.
Neighbouring countries are concerned about China's expanding naval strength. A new generation of leaders were installed this month at the 18th Communist Party Congress in Beijing, including president Xi Jingping. The outgoing President, Hu Jintao, made a pointed reference to strengthening China’s naval forces to protect maritime interests and to win local wars.
A video of the landing, broadcast by China Central Television, showed a J-15 tail hook engaging a cable on the deck of the carrier as the jet landed and slowed to a halt. China self-developed the technology for the landing, which some military experts believed would not be ready until next year.
Zhang Junshe of the Naval Affairs Research Instituted said: "The successful landing… has always been seen as a symbol of the operating combat capability for an aircraft carrier." The landing on the 300-meter-long ship was a crucial step in the process of evaluating its combat capabilities. Even so, it is expected to be three years before the ship is fully operational..
Already the crew has performed above 100 training and testing programs including landings and takeoffs by 2 Chinese-built Shenyang J-15 jet fighters. The Chinese actually saved the Liaoning from the scrap heap, when it was sold off by the Soviet navy after the USSR collapsed. It was only partially built when China bought it from the Ukraine 10 years ago. It was finished at the port of Dalian in northwestern Liaoning provice, hence the name. The Chinese are far behind the U.S. in naval development and in particular the building of aircraft carriers. The U.S. already has eleven carriers in service and boasts the world's largest navy.