The Chinese Navy has completed its first nighttime takeoffs and landings from the country’s only operating aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
State media touted the tests as a major step forward in the combat ability of the ship, Defense News recently reported.
A video released last week showcased the J-15 fighter jets in total darkness as they conducted the first-of-its-kind tests for the Chinese Navy.
Nighttime aircraft missions from carrier ships are considered more difficult and dangerous, and the Chinese Navy is also relatively inexperienced.
China’s sole commissioned aircraft carrier is primarily used as a training ship and has never seen combat.
Watch the aircrafts’ night landings here:
The country’s second aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, began its maiden voyage in late April and has completed various sea trials.
The Type 001A was a major accomplishment for the Chinese military, as it was the country’s first home-built aircraft carrier and will likely be commissioned toward the end of this year.
Beijing said that aircraft carriers of this kind will be used as a line of defense to protect coastlines and trade routes, though experts say that China’s military efforts are more to protect their interests in disputed lands.
China currently lays claim to countless disputed islands in the South China Sea and has in recent weeks implemented various military weapons systems and aircraft as a further defense.
China’s Navy also regularly encroaches on and criticizes U.S. Freedom of Navigation Operations missions in the area, as well.
China’s interest in expanding its Navy displays the country’s desire to compete with the U.S and Japan.
While China’s Navy currently boasts the highest number of total vessels in the fleet, in terms of sheer power and military expenditure, the country still falls short of the U.S.
A nearly $750 billion defense budget puts the U.S. leaps and bounds ahead of all other nations, and allows the U.S. Navy to operate 19 aircraft carriers – including the largest in the world.