China Lands Fighter Jet in Show of Force

Chinese state media reports China has successfully conducted a flight landing on its first aircraft carrier. This landing comes amid the China State Shipbuilding Corporation’s call to build more aircraft carriers. From Xinhua:

A new J-15 fighter jet was used as part of the landing exercise.

After its delivery to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy on Sept. 25, the aircraft carrier has undergone a series of sailing and technological tests, including the flight of the carrier-borne J-15.

Capabilities of the carrier platform and the J-15 have been tested, meeting all requirements and achieving good compatibility, the PLA Navy said.

Since the carrier entered service, the crew have completed more than 100 training and test programs.

While the landing exercise involved the J-15 fighter jet, China has also been developing more stealth fighter jets. The Wall Street Journal claims the exercise is a confirmation of China’s rise as a global military power:

It was the first official confirmation that China has mastered the complex technology and technical skills needed to operate fighters from a carrier at sea—a capability it has been seeking for decades as part of its quest to become a global military power.

The Liaoning, which officially entered service in September, is a potent symbol of China’s long-term strategic ambition to project air power far from its shores and challenge U.S. military dominance of the Asia Pacific region.

China has said the vessel will be used only for training, but many military experts say that it could be deployed in a crisis near Chinese shores, such as a clash over disputed islands in the East China Sea or the South China Sea.

Military experts say it will take several more years of training before the vessel, based on a hull bought from Ukraine, is combat ready. China also has to develop all the support vessel and associated technologies before it can use a carrier group the way the U.S. does, to extend its military influence abroad.

As China plans to increase the budget for jet engine research, China is boosting its overall military spending this year, according to Reuters:

China has advertised its long-term military ambitions with shows of new hardware, including its first test flight of a stealth fighter jet in early 2011, an elite helicopter unit and the launch of the aircraft carrier.

China is boosting military spending by 11.2 percent this year, bringing official outlays on the People’s Liberation Army to 670.3 billion yuan ($100 billion) for 2012, after a 12.7 percent increase last year and a near-unbroken string of double-digit rises across two decades.

Beijing’s public budget is widely thought by foreign experts to undercount its real spending on military modernization, which has drawn repeated calls from the United States for China to share more about its intentions.