The J-15 fighter jet is capable of night takeoff and landing on an aircraft carrier, the Chinese navy newspaper said Wednesday, leading a Chinese military expert to marvel at how fast the pilots mastered a difficult and dangerous technique.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy has made a breakthrough in its aircraft carrier night takeoff and landing technique, a historic milestone for the J-15 and a significant breakthrough in overall attack and defense capability, the official PLA website navy.81.cn website reported on Wednesday.
At night during combat, aircraft carriers are likely to dim their lights making takeoff and landing a much more challenging proposition for pilots, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday.
Daytime take-off and landing are already difficult and dangerous as a carrier is much smaller than, for example, an airport landing strip, Song said.
Factor in the harsh sea and weather conditions, and the pilot must learn to face and overcome massive psychological pressure.
In a recent training session, J-15 pilots took off and landed at night multiple times and finished live-fire target practices with various types of missiles, the report said.
"Military conflicts do not only break out during daytime, and so it's very important to take nighttime operations into consideration in preparing for a potential war," Song said.
The fighter jets' abilities to take off and land in all weathers at all times are an important indication that a carrier has developed full combat capabilities, Song noted.
It took five years for the J-15 to evolve from test flights, pilot training, through flying by day to flying by day and night, navy.81.cn reported.
Compared to other countries that have aircraft carriers and have practiced the technique for decades, China took only a few years, Song said.
The achievement showed how much PLA pilots had invested in their training, he said.