China’s first aircraft carrier Shi Lang, Currently on its maiden voyage, is
widely expected to have its shipborne fighter jets conduct simulated
landing trials Saturday, after a navigation ban and radio control notice
was put in place.
The landing trials will go ahead if weather conditions allow, but
fighters will take off as soon as they approach the ship instead of
actually landing, a source close to the trial told the Global Times
The source also revealed that the jets to be used in the tests are
J-15s, a domestically made heavy fighter, dubbed the People’s Liberation
Army navy’s “Flying Shark.”
The trials are aimed mainly at testing the radar system and optical
landing system of the aircraft carrier, which left its shipyard in
northeastern Dalian and began its first five-day journey on Wednesday,
the source said.
Pictures shot by aviation enthusiasts earlier show the J-15, which
reportedly made its maiden flight on August 31, 2009, featuring enlarged
folding wings and twin nose wheels.
“It’s not easy to land on a moving vessel, so we will actively conduct
tests and trials,” the source said, adding that pilots had been through
intensive training to prepare for the trial.
However, Xu Yongling, deputy chief of staff at an air force station and a
former J-10 fighter test pilot, downplayed the possibility.
“The platform is still not sufficient for such trials, as both the
equipment and personnel are still not ready for it,” Xu told the Global
Times Friday, noting that it would take at least another two months
before flight trials can take place on the carrier.
A staff member from the press office of the Ministry of National Defense
declined to make any comments to the Global Times Friday, saying it had
nothing new to report about the aircraft carrier.
The Liaoning Maritime Safety Administration published a notice Wednesday
restricting navigation and radio communication in an area with a radius
of 17 nautical miles (31.5 kilometers) on Saturday in the northeast
Bohai Sea, which has led to widespread speculation among media that
fighters will be tested on the carrier.
Earlier, the authority issued a navigation ban from Wednesday to Sunday in the northern Yellow Sea and Liaoning Bay.
“Heavy shipborne fighters will boost the aircraft carrier fleet’s air
defense capability and enhance the fleet’s strike ability,” Lan Yun,
editor of Modern Ships, a Beijing-based magazine, told the Global Times
“They can carry many air-to-air missiles or air-to-surface missiles and
other kinds of airborne munitions,” Lan said. “And they have the benefit
of long combat radius.”
The aircraft carrier, revamped from an old Soviet ship, the Varyag, that
arrived in Dalian nine years ago, has become the focus of international
concern and speculation, although China’s defense ministry has stressed
the carrier will be used mainly for training and research.
The US asked China to explain why it needs an aircraft carrier and to be
more transparent over military development hours after the vessel set
“We would welcome any kind of explanation that China would like to give
for needing this kind of equipment,” State Department spokeswoman
Victoria Nuland said at a press conference.
“This is part of our larger concern that China is not as transparent as
other countries. It’s not as transparent as the US about its military
acquisitions, about its military budget,” she said.
Japan’s defense minister Toshimi Kitazawa made similar remarks on Friday, AFP reported.
Nuland’s remarks were challenged by Wen Xian, a correspondent with People’s Daily in Washington.
“Is China’s aircraft carrier stealth or mini-sized? You know it is
there, how could you say it is not transparent?” Wen contested,
according to a report published by People’s Daily Friday.
“In the last 10 years, the US military expenditure has grown faster than
China’s and its defense budget was above $600 billion. With such an
advantageous situation, why is the US still so concerned with China’s
weaponry and defense expenditure?” Wen said, adding that the US already
has 14 aircraft carriers.
Nuland declined to reply, saying, “As for the comparison of the military
budget and the number of aircraft carriers, I think you’d better ask
the defense agency.”
Nuland’s answers fully displayed Washington’s “arrogance and rudeness,” the report said.
Major General Huang Guozhu, editor-in-chief of the top military
newspaper PLA Daily, called on Chinese people to remain calm in the face
of other countries’ remarks.
“The imperialists have been arrogant and rude, but it is not necessary
to be angry about it,” Huang said in an opinion piece published on the
newspaper’s website Thursday.
“Peaceful development is our country’s long-term strategy. Even if we
have more aircraft careers, we will not invade other countries or
dominate the world,” Huang noted.
US aircraft carrier, the USRonald Reagan, and its three support ships
arrived in Hong Kong on Friday, marking the start of her fourth port
visit there, Xinhua reported.
At the press conference held on the carrier, its commanding officer
Capt. Thom Burke said, “We are excited to have this opportunity to visit
this fine city of Hong Kong, and we are looking forward to experiencing
the culture and continuing to build ties in the community.”
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