China’s only aircraft carrier took part in a live-fire drill for the first time, the Chinese military revealed Thursday evening.
Ships and aircraft from the CNS Liaoning carrier battle group and the North Sea Fleet participated in a huge exercise in the Bohai Sea, the People’s Liberation Army said.
More than 10 air-to-air, anti-ship, and air-defense missiles were fired during the drill. Together with several destroyers and frigates, the Liaoning engaged in reconnaissance, aircraft interception, naval strikes, and missile defense drills.
Carrier-borne Shenyang J-15 fighters were deployed during the exercise. Video footage shows the jets firing missiles and destroying targets at sea.
“This is the first time an aircraft carrier squadron has performed drills with live ammunition and real troops,” CCTV said.
The exercise was conducted to test the combat capabilities of the Liaoning, its personnel and on-board weapons systems.
“Through this exercise, our confidence in the weaponry and the entire system was boosted,” Xu Ying, commander of the Chinese navy’s J-15 squadron, said.
The Liaoning was originally a Soviet “heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser,” according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The ship was purchased by the Chinese in the late 1990s, hauled to China a few years later, and developed into China’s first aircraft carrier.
It was commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army Navy in September 2012.
“As a combat platform, regarding technology and capability to execute missions, China still lags behind the US,” Li Dongyou, the Liaoning’s political commissar, told the Global Times in mid-November when the carrier was declared combat ready.
“As a military force, we are always prepared for war, and our combat capacity also needs to be tested by war,” he added.
China is in the process of building a second aircraft carrier, which China argues will be superior to the Liaoning.
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