Home » Aviation » Beijing Confirms Chinese Carrier Launched Fighters in South China Sea

Beijing Confirms Chinese Carrier Launched Fighters in South China Sea

Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark prepare to launch on from carrier Liaoning

Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark prepare to launch on from carrier Liaoning

A Chinese carrier strike group has conducted training drills and launched fighters in the South China Sea – a first for the People’s Liberation Army Navy, Chinese officials confirmed on Tuesday in a state-controlled press report.

Aircraft carrier Liaoning launched Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark fighters during a transit far from its usual area of operation near its homeport of Qingdao on the Yellow Sea, read the report from the Xinhua wire service.

“A naval formation consisting of aircraft carrier Liaoning has conducted take-off and landing drills in the South China Sea on Monday,” read the brief report which noted the drills occurred during “complex sea conditions.”

j-15-launch2The nature of the tests weren’t revealed by Chinese authorities, but video released from state-controlled CCTV showed the carrier was deployed with 13 J-15s fighters. The same video showed the J-15s launching in the Yellow Sea with clean wings – without any ordnance or external fuel tanks.

The carrier strike group – comprised of Liaoning, three guided-missile destroyers, two guided-missile frigates, an anti-submarine corvette and a fleet-oiler – was reported passing between the Japanese islands of Okinawa and Miyako-jima, according to a Dec. 25, 2016, Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) report translated by Navy Recognition.

Perhaps adding to the significance of the deployment, before passing between the islands the carrier played host to the head of the PLAN, Adm. Wu Shengli, according to the CCTV video.

The U.S. provided limited details on the Chinese deployment when asked by USNI News on Tuesday.

“We do not have specific comments on China’s recent naval activities, but we continue to observe a range of ongoing Chinese military activity in the region‎,” read a Pentagon statement provided to USNI News on Tuesday.
“The United States recognizes the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all countries in accordance with international law.”

One naval analyst told USNI News the strike group deployment could be more about political messaging than military practicality.

The head of the People's Liberation Army Navy Adm. Wu Shengli on Chinese carrier Liaoning

The head of the People’s Liberation Army Navy Adm. Wu Shengli on Chinese carrier Liaoning

“These latest drills provide our first insights into how China will likely be using their aircraft carrier in the near future. Rather than extended power projection in far-off waters, the Chinese appear more likely to use the carrier, at least initially, as a demonstration of regional muscle – sending a message that they are willing to back up talk, policy, or rhetoric with a show of strength,” Eric Wertheim, author of U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World, told USNI News on Tuesday.
“The Chinese carrier is an important symbol of their power for both a domestic and international audience. As their skills begin to improve, their carrier could also potentially provide a temporary boost to their own military and aviation capabilities in contested areas like the South China Sea.”

The deployment of the carrier strike group – the most ambitious yet for the PLAN – comes as President-Elect Donald Trump has made overtures directly to Taiwan in the last several weeks, including speaking directly with the country’s president.

The Liaoning carrier strike group underway

The Liaoning carrier strike group underway

Beijing has not been apologetic on the deployment.

“Aircraft carriers are strategic tools which should be used to show China’s strength to the world and shape the outside world’s attitude toward China,” an editorial in state-controlled Global Times read, reported The New York Times.
“As China’s only aircraft carrier fleet now, it should have the ability and courage to sail further.”

  • Buford ButtFish

    PIX or it didn’t happen, you know videos and the like. Proof.

  • RealEagle1


  • Steve Darrow

    How many aircraft carrier groups does the US Navy have operating in the world. I rest my case.

    • Ctrot

      Only one today. One more preparing to deploy. All others are in port or undergoing maintenance.

  • John B. Morgen

    A nice big surface target for our SSNs to take out, and some Chinese aircraft for our F-35B/Cs or F-18s to shoot at.

  • dave lacey

    Final adjunct flexibility to their seven unsinkable carriers(the developed reefs with runways long enuf to support land based aircraft with “legs” to reach our fleet).
    Wow, shiphandling of that high prowed birdfarm must be like taxiing the F4u Corsair (long nosed bent-wing WW2 fighter).
    Dave Lacey

  • Hugh

    Chinese copy……..

    • Donald Carey

      Just like the absurd “cammo” their CNO was wearing – LOL!

  • Michael D. Woods

    As R&D for the future, they’re doing well. As an actual threat, not so much. But they’re coming on! What are the other Asians doing about it? Nothing. I understand the Japanese reluctance given their history, but the others? Duterte? What a dope! The US can be the guarantor of freedom in Asia if the Asians will do their part, as South Korea does. If not, let ’em go.

  • Oh my God, the PLAN’s carriers are coming, the PLAN’s carriers are coming, well no the PLAN’s one carrier is coming. What a great big carrier gap from one outdated Russian (Soviet) designed skip deck carrier. Maybe, if the USN has any carriers at sea???, it should steam one or two in a battle group to follow the Liaoning. The contrast would be stark and make a point. even a large deck LHA with F35’s deployed could make a point. Enough already with the hysteria. One carrier dose not make a threat and it will never make a threat. Even with the proposed four PLAN carriers there is no real threat. Tell that to all the Southeast Asia countries that are quaking under this perceived threat. The carrier is coming, yea for real.

  • Ron8200

    They launched and recovered planes without lost, something the Russian carrier has not been able to do. US has superiority no question and hopefully that will continue. At $15 Billion per carrier and $140 million per F35 can we afford to maintain those forces?