China's J-15 fighter jets conduct drills in frigid weather, 'prepare for aircraft carrier exercises'
Published: Jan 19, 2021 09:03 PM

A J-15 carrier-borne fighter jet takes off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Liaoning during a maritime training exercise on July 1, 2017. The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its carrier strike group carried out realistic training in an undisclosed sea area on July 1, 2017. ( by Li Tang)

China's J-15 aircraft carrier-based fighter jets recently conducted a series of free air combat drills in temperatures below -20 C, proving the warplane's strong environmental adaptability, given that Chinese aircraft carriers will need to sail to all kinds of places around the world, experts said on Tuesday.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy aircraft carrier-based aviation forces recently organized J-15 fighter jets to conduct confrontational exercises in combat scenarios in temperatures below -20 C for several days in the Bohai Sea, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Monday.

In an air combat session, two fighter jets of the red team completed a series of tactical moves including fake attack, breakaway, intercept, lock on and attack, successfully shooting down aircraft of the blue team that had been aggressively attacking, CCTV reported.

Multiple performance parameters of the J-15 fighter jet were tested in the harsh battlefield environment, and pilots honed skills and practiced coordination, as new tactics proved to be useful, CCTV said.

Aircraft carriers are portable airfields that can travel around the world, so their aircraft must be able to adapt to different environments, including harsh cold in the north and high humidity near the equator like the South China Sea, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The exercises showed that not only is the J-15 up to the challenges of harsh cold, but also the maintenance crew and command center, Fu said.

The CCTV report also showed that the exercises were based around an airfield instead of an aircraft carrier.

With the PLA now operating two aircraft carriers and more under construction, it will not be long until similar free air combat drills will be conducted between real aircraft carriers, analysts predict.

By setting challenging training objectives and strong opponents, we have been conducting multiple real combat-oriented training sessions based on the aircraft carrier group system, Yuan Wei, deputy chief of staff of the unit, said on CCTV.

"The PLA can now harness aircraft carriers and the fighter jets they carry. Once needed, our carriers can set out immediately to safeguard China's maritime security," Fu said.