China starts flight operations from first aircraft carrier

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The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has started test flights onboard its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, with Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark fighters.

According to Chinese media reports, the ship and its aircraft have been conducting sea trials over the past two weeks. The ship and the J-15 aircraft "are meeting all requirements and achieving good compatibility", the Chinese Xinhua state news agency reports.

 

 Chinese Internet

But neither the Liaoning nor J-15 are truly indigenous products. The Liaoning is the refitted hull of the former Soviet carrier Varyag, which was left unfinished after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. The Liaoning was delivered to the PLAN on 25 September earlier this year.

The Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark is a reverse engineered version of the Russian Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker naval fighter, which flies off the former Varyag's sister ship, the Admiral Kuznetsov. China is thought to have acquired a prototype of the Su-33 from Ukraine, based on which it created the J-15.

It is likely that China has substantially upgraded the original 1980s vintage Su-33 airframe for its purposes.