China lands J-15 jet on Liaoning aircraft carrier

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 defense 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.

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.

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.

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 modernizing their armed forces so they can project military power far beyond China’s borders.

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