CHINA / MILITARY
Carrier-based fighter jets make breakthroughs in live-fire drills
Published: Aug 11, 2021 08:03 PM
The picture shows aircraft carrier <em>Shandong</em> berths at a naval port in Sanya. China's first domestically-made aircraft carrier <em>Shandong</em> (Hull 17) was officially commissioned to the PLA Navy at a military port in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province, on the afternoon of December 17, 2019, making China one of the few countries in the world that have multiple carriers. Photo:China Military

The picture shows aircraft carrier Shandong berths at a naval port in Sanya. China's first domestically-made aircraft carrier Shandong (Hull 17) was officially commissioned to the PLA Navy at a military port in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province, on the afternoon of December 17, 2019, making China one of the few countries in the world that have multiple carriers. Photo:China Military



 Aircraft carrier-based J-15 fighter jets of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy recently conducted a series of live-fire missile drills that broke several records, including the number of aircraft sortied and types of weapons fired.

With China's aircraft carrier program moving forward, the country's carrier-based fighter jets must also keep up in terms of number, performance and operational capability, experts said on Wednesday.

A PLA aircraft carrier-based aviation unit recently assembled J-15 fighter jets for an exercise featuring the live-firing of multiple types of missiles to test the pilots' techniques and tactics in air combat, tactical defense penetration and beyond-visual-range attack, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Tuesday.

Loaded with missiles, several J-15 fighter jets took off from a training base and headed toward the targeted area. 

On approach, some of the J-15s flew higher and engaged in air combat with hostile aircraft, launched multiple air-to-air missiles and seized air superiority, when the other J-15s took low routes, skimming above the sea, rapidly and stealthily penetrating hostile defenses, and launched anti-ship missiles that destroyed hostile vessels.

The exercise saw breakthroughs in the number of aircraft sortied, types of weapons fired, weapons deployed and the exercise results, CCTV said.

The report did not disclose the exact date and location of the exercises.

With the commissioning of China's second aircraft carrier the Shandong in late 2019 and now that a third one is reportedly under construction, the PLA Navy has a larger demand for carrier-based fighter jets, not only in terms of numbers, but also in performance and operational capability, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Wednesday.

More J-15s are being delivered to the PLA, with some of the new ones could be getting upgrades, and the pilots are training with them under more realistic scenarios to unlock their true potential, the expert said.

In early 2020, a newly produced J-15 was painted with a green primer in a photo released by the Shenyang Aircraft Company under the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the maker of the aircraft. CCTV reported at the time that the new primer, compared to the old yellow one, could enhance the aircraft's anti-corrosion capability out in the sea.

China is also expected to develop a next-generation carrier-based fighter jet with stealth capability.

China's second stealth fighter jet, the FC-31, could be a top option, when it is upgraded to suit the needs of carrier operations, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times, after foreign media outlets in June posted a photo showing a full-sized model of the fighter that was spotted on a mock aircraft carrier in Central China, allegedly used to evaluate the country's carrier development.


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