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Watch China's First Aircraft Carrier Recover a Fighter Jet

Kyle Mizokami
·2 min read
  • A new video shows Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, at sea.

  • The clip includes a J-15 strike fighter landing on the ship’s flight deck.

  • The video was apparently taken aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer.

A new video has surfaced that purportedly shows the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning recovering a J-15 strike fighter. The landing is perhaps the first video sourced from outside of Chinese state media to show operations on China’s first aircraft carrier.

➡ You love badass ships. So do we. Let’s nerd out over them together.

The video likely comes from someone aboard the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mustin, which was following the Chinese carrier strike group from a distance.

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The date of the video isn’t clear. While the voices in the clip are speaking English, most of it is unintelligible. As a J-15 carrier-based fighter lands on Liaoning, a female sailor’s voice is clearly heard exclaiming, “Ooh!”

In the video, you can also see a Type 055 warship, which the U.S. Department of Defense classifies as a guided missile cruiser, trailing the carrier. The camera also focuses on a Type 052D guided missile destroyer leading the carrier strike group.

Both surface warships reportedly broke off from the strike group before the events in the historic photograph showing Mustin’s commanding and executive officers watching the fleet from afar.

Photo credit: - - Getty Images
Photo credit: - - Getty Images

How did Mustin’s video of Liaoning show up on social media? That isn’t clear. Shadowing the fleets of other countries is a common action used to demonstrate awareness of potential adversaries and to collect firsthand information. While this isn’t generally considered hostile, it is a little nosy.

Liaoning is China’s first ever aircraft carrier. Commissioned in 2012, the carrier is capable of carrying up to 24 J-15 strike fighters.

The Chinese carrier is smaller than its American counterparts, has a less capable air wing, and its lack of aircraft catapults means its aircraft are forced to pack less fuel and munitions. The ship is commonly considered a training ship, and not one meant for combat.

Experts believe China will eventually build between four and six carriers, enough to equal the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

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