• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Chinese Military Displays Unexpected Aircraft Capabilities

    This past week, Beijing announced that it had successfully launched and landed a J-15 fighter aircraft from its new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

    The announcement, accompanied by videos, makes clear that China has put substantial resources—both financial and human—toward its goal of operating aircraft carriers.

    There were several notable aspects to this premier flight:

    • The operation involved an actual take off and recovery of an aircraft. When the ship was first formally accepted into service in September 2012, there was already speculation about whether there had been “touch and go” landings on the deck, where an aircraft will lower its landing gear, touch down briefly on the flight deck at relatively low speed, before accelerating and climbing. Such maneuvers are part of the process of learning how to launch and recover aircraft. But this week’s development was much more advanced, involving the actual landing of an aircraft on the flight deck, with the use of arresting wires and a tailhook on the aircraft. This suggests a higher level of proficiency than had earlier been expected. Similarly, the videos of an aircraft taking off from the Liaoning display significant proficiency on the part of the Chinese pilot.
    • The operation involved a high performance aircraft. The Chinese test belies much of the media speculation from as recently as this past September that China does not even possess carrier-capable high performance aircraft. It would have been easier, and safer, for the Chinese to have used a slower, lighter aircraft, such as a trainer, to mark its first public aircraft launch and recovery. Instead, Beijing demonstrated that it is much farther along in practicing shipborne takeoffs and landings and is not limited to practicing on land.
    • The operation involved a domestically produced aircraft. The type of aircraft employed, too, was no accident. Part of the reason for the widespread skepticism about when China can put the Liaoning into operation rests on the assumption that the military does not possess any carrier-capable aircraft, since there have been no announced sales to China. This demonstration, however, employed a domestically produced aircraft, the J-15, albeit one clearly derived from Sukhoi. The decision to use a new, indigenously produced aircraft for this first public display suggests an underlying political message: Don’t underestimate what China can do when it sets its mind to it.

    None of this should be taken to mean that the People’s Liberation Army will be conducting full-blown carrier operations in the South or East China Seas next year. It remains to be seen what other aircraft designs the Chinese have developed, including for airborne early warning and anti-submarine warfare.

    But given the blithe, near-sneering dismissal of the Chinese carrier as recently as three months ago, it should remind us of the observations of Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance Vice Admiral David Dorsett:

    I think one of the things that is probably true, true from my observation in the last several years, is we have been pretty consistent in underestimating the delivery and IOC [initial operating capability] of Chinese technology, weapon systems. They’ve entered operational capability quicker.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Chinese Military Displays Unexpected Aircraft Capabilities

    1. Bobbie says:

      Trust what's unexpected to America, Obama is fully aware as he despises Americans so much he and his minions only have discipline to keep America in the dark, distort truth and defend blatant lies with much of his daily doings his appointees work on against America(ns) Obama took full advantage of to get to where he's at. Obama assumed his position under America's freedom he is using his position to take away from everyone else.

      People should have strength in today's character but when America is bogged down by the weak and weakened minded in high positions for no reason that accountability and corrections doesn't fix, America weakens. American people gave the world nothing to hate America(ns) for. The government controls it all and this third world takeover of the lesser, will kill America if they aren't stopped!!

    2. fumanchu32 says:

      The Chinese are preparing to become THE dominant power of the 21st century- in every respect.

    3. Chinese military has a brand new aircraft carrier and fighters amazingly similar to our own F-15, except theirs are J-15's.

    4. a_obama says:

      Time to let Taiwan go bake its motherland.
      The Taiwan Game is OVER!

      Time to retreat from Asia. There is no way to stay there anymore.
      The Pivot Game is OVER!

      It doesn't matter how weak the Liaoning is, or how useless the J-15s are. They are China's national assets. They have more vulnerable targets and you can't even think of attacking them. The big dam on the Yangtze River is an easy one, dare you think of touching it?

      China is a nuclear power and it has all necessary means to respond to any hostility to its national assets. If you want a nuclear war against China, go alone, but not ask me to join.

    5. Afnan Shah says:

      F-35C: US$236.8M
      F/A-18F Super Hornet : US$66.9 million
      Su-27: US$30 million

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×