Chinese state media claims the nations first aircraft carrier is now ‘combat ready’.
The Liaoning, previously described by Chinese media as a surface platform for tests and training, now has “a real combat capacity” according to the state-run Global Times.
The report cites Li Dongyou, a government official, as saying that the carrier is “constantly prepared for war.”
“As a military force, we are always prepared for war and our combat capacity also needs to be tested by war.
At this moment, we are doing our best to promote our strength and use it to prevent war, and are prepared for actual combat at any time.”
Liaoning is the first aircraft carrier commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army Navy Surface Force. It was classified as a training ship, intended to allow the Navy to practice with carrier usage.
Originally laid down as the Admiral Kuznetsov class multirole aircraft carrier Riga for the Soviet Navy, she was launched on December 1988, and renamed Varyag in 1990.
The stripped hulk was purchased in 1998 by the People’s Republic of China and towed to Dalian shipyard in northeast China. After being completely rebuilt and undergoing sea trials, the ship was commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army Navy as Liaoning with the class name Type 001 in September 2012.
Unlike the Russian aircraft carrier Kuznetsov, which carries surface-attack cruise missiles that are usually found on cruisers, Liaoning is equipped only with air defence weapons and must use its aircraft for surface attack.