China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, left its homeport of Qingdao in east China’s Shandong Province for the South China Sea on Tuesday on a scientific and training mission.
This is the first time the carrier has conducted a cross-sea training voyage since it was commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy last year, according to the Liaoning’s Captain Zhang Zheng.
The aircraft carrier was escorted by two missile destroyers, the Shenyang and Shijiazhuang, and two missile frigates, the Yantai and Weifang. The voyage will test the carrier’s equipment, Zhang said.
Long cross-sea voyages are a necessary stage of experimentation and training to test equipment and troops under continuous work and different hydrological and meteorological conditions.
The Liaoning and its crew conducted a series of tests and training drills, including landing and takeoff by various aircraft, including the J-15 carrier-borne fighter.
The upcoming South China Sea trial is a normal arrangement in the carrier’s scheduled training, according to the PLA Navy.
The Liaoning is China’s only aircraft carrier in operation. It was refitted based on an unfinished Russian-made carrier and delivered to the navy on Sept. 25, 2012.