Key Chinese official behind jets for aircraft carrier dead
Beijing: The much publicised landing of a fighter jet on China's first ever aircraft carrier ended up on a sad note as a key official involved in developing the aircraft died of heart attack.
The head of production for China's new J-15, dubbed by Chinese officials as the 'cradle of China's fighter jets' died of heart attack on Sunday while on duty, official media here reported on Monday.
"Mourn General Manager Luo Yang. Luo will be immortal," read the electronic signs at the gates of China's Shenyang Aircraft Corp (SAC), which developed the new aircraft said.
Luo, who headed the group which developed the aircraft, was also chairman and chief manager of the SAC.
"Luo experienced a sudden heart attack while participating in flight landing training for China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, around noon on Sunday", state-run Xinhua news agency quoted official China Central Television (CCTV)report as saying.
A new J-15 fighter jet was used as part of the landing exercise.
Sunday’s event was first for landing of the aircraft on the carrier as well as the debut for the new jet, which now has been identified as the aircraft to be used for China's new aircraft carriers to be developed in future.
In many ways it was a debut performance for J-15 too as China unveiled it only in the recent weeks.
Russians specialists said it closely resembled Su-33 and carried a Russian engine.
J-15 is capable of firing anti-ship, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles and precision guided bombs, according a report in China.Org.Cn.
Military experts believe its capabilities are comparable to Russia's Sukhoi Su-33 and the US F/A-18 Hornet, it said.
Meanwhile Chinese officials said successful landing exercises on China's first aircraft carrier mean the country is now capable to deploy fighter jets on the carrier.
Pilots have mastered key skills to ensure the success of the take-off and the landing, especially under unfavourable conditions such as poor visibility and unstable airflow, said Vice-Admiral Zhang Yongyi, a deputy commander of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.
"It's like dancing on a knifepoint as the aircraft have to land on a very limited space," Zhang said while commenting on the successful flight landing recently conducted on the carrier, the Liaoning.
"We have done all these test flights from the very beginning, and finally we mastered the key skills for the landing of carrier-borne aircraft," said Zhang, who is also the commander-in-chief in charge of the tests and training program of the flight landing.
Currently, the Chinese pilots have found out the right ways to conduct the landing and they have consolidated their skills, according to the Navy officer, who himself is a meritorious pilot of the Chinese naval air force, state run Xinhua reported.
Zhang said the carrier-borne aircraft and special equipment for the landing flight have gone through strict tests, and fighter jets can be deployed on the aircraft carrier.
"The operations proved that China has built its own capable carrier-based fighters and a successful staff-training system. These elements are the foundation for forming combat capability in the future," Du said.
"The PLA Navy can have the same combat capability as foreign navies, which we have so envied in the past," he added.
Official media here hailed it as a major breakthrough for Chinese in transforming itself into a blue water navy.
"Military enthusiasts should have every reason to hail the achievement. From now on, China owns its complete carrier system. More pilots will master landing and takeoff skills.
"After that, they will carry out tactical training, join exercises with other naval vessels in order to achieve combat capability step by step," Lan Yun, a navay expert told official daily Global Times.
It is logical to predict that more carriers will be built in China, and the country will also develop fifth-generation carrier-based fighters, Lan said.
Wu Xiaoguang, vice general engineer of China's aircraft carrier project, said the number of carriers China will build depended on the country's needs to safeguard its maritime and national interests.
"What I can tell you now is that the Liaoning is only a beginning," Wu was quoted by Xinhua as saying.