China Successfully Launches Fighter Jets from Carrier in South China Sea

On Monday, the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) aircraft carrier Liaoning successfully launched and recovered J-15 fighter aircraft while carrying out drills in the South China Sea. This is the first time the PLAN has carried out such operations in heavy seas; since it began drills in December, the Liaoning has practiced live ammunition drills and simulated patrols in the Bohai, Yellow, and now South China Seas. During the drills J-15 aircraft practiced midair refueling, air combat, and contingency maneuvers.
The Cipher Take: This signifies an advance for the PLAN toward declaring the Liaoning combat ready. Successfully launching and recovering aircraft in the open water and weather conditions of the South China Sea is more difficult than doing so closer to land, as it had previously. In addition to this qualitative advancement in China’s aircraft carrier ambitions, the PLAN is constructing a second aircraft carrier and has a third indigenously designed carrier on the drawing board. The drills, which brought the ship close to Taiwan and Okinawa, have made some of China’s neighbors nervous, but it has yet to violate any international maritime laws or conventions.


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