Sky’s the limit

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY

A man can­not hide his ex­cite­ment after col­lect­ing tick­ets to board the Liaon­ing, China’s first air­craft car­rier, out­side the Cen­tral Bar­racks on Mon­day. Res­i­dents have been lin­ing up for tick­ets to visit the ship, which will be open to the Hong Kong pub­lic on Satur­day and Sun­day.

China’s air­craft car­rier bat­tle group car­ried out a full drill in first-de­gree com­bat readi­ness on Satur­day, the high­est level of a four-tier de­fense readi­ness pro­to­col, the De­fense Min­istry said on Mon­day.

The drill was to strengthen co­or­di­na­tion among the fleet’s ves­sels and planes, and im­prove the skills of the crew and pi­lots in dif­fer­ent ma­rine re­gions un­der real com­bat sit­u­a­tions, said Gao Zhaorui, the fleet’s chief of staff.

The fleet in­cludes the CNS Liaon­ing, China’s first air­craft car­rier; guided-mis­sile de­stroy­ers CNS Ji­nan and CNS Yinchuan; and guid­ed­mis­sile fri­gate CNS Yan­tai. The group set out from Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince, on June 25 for rou­tine trans-re­gional ex­er­cises.

On Satur­day af­ter­noon, hun­dreds of ser­vice­men and women went into ac­tion. At the same time, sev­eral groups of armed J-15 car­rier-borne fighter jets took off into the sky.

After the jets com­pleted their ob­jec­tives and re­turned to the car­rier, per­son­nel flocked to the planes to be­gin main­te­nance and re­fu­el­ing.

Xu Ying, a se­nior pi­lot, said it was his first time par­tic­i­pat­ing in a trans-re­gional drill. “Tak­ing off in chal­leng­ing sea and weather con­di­tions re­ally puts all the pi­lot’s abil­i­ties to the test,” he was quoted as say­ing in a min­istry news re­lease.

“After the drill, we pi­lots feel our pi­lot­ing skills, men­tal for­ti­tude and com­bat ca­pa­bil­i­ties have im­proved. These skills will help us com­plete more com­pli­cated mis­sions in the future.”

Com­plet­ing the full flight rou­tine, from prepa­ra­tion to land­ing, has im­proved the flight crew’s over­all skills and ef­fi­ciency, said Xu Yinghong, the cap­tain of the flight crew. They also found new ways to op­ti­mize the pro­ce­dure to make it go more smoothly.

The com­man­der of fleet, who was not named in the min­istry news re­lease, said the ob­jec­tives of the drill were di­vided into three ma­jor parts — ves­sel ma­neu­ver­ing, flight and equip­ment test­ing.

Ev­ery ves­sel also had to fol­low the cen­tral or­der of the fleet com­mand, and com­plete var­i­ous com­pli­cated tasks, such as chang­ing for­ma­tion and target sur­veil­lance, as a co­he­sive group, he said.

The fleet will visit Hong Kong from Fri­day to Tues­day to cel­e­brate the 20 th an­niver­sary of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Hong Kong Gar­ri­son, the gar­ri­son said in a state­ment.

The gar­ri­son as­sumed de­fense du­ties of the city on July 1, 1997, when its sovereignty was re­turned to China from the United King­dom. It cur­rently has about 6,000 per­son­nel and is com­manded by Lieu­tenant General Tan Ben­hong.

Sec­tions of the car­rier and war­ships will be open to the pub­lic for the first time through­out the week­end. Hong Kong res­i­dents will also have a chance to in­ter­act with of­fi­cers and sailors from the fleet, the state­ment said.

The CNS Liaon­ing is a re­fit­ted Soviet-era ves­sel that was com­mis­sioned by the PLA Navy in 2012. China also launched its first do­mes­ti­cally built air­craft car­rier in April.

LI TANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A J-15 car­rier-borne fighter jet lands on CNS Liaon­ing dur­ing a mil­i­tary ex­er­cise last month.

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