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China lands first jet on its aircraft carrier

The landing marked the debut of the carrier-based J-15 fighter-bomber, modeled on Russia’s Sukhoi Su-33.

Zha Chunming/Xinhua via Associated Press

The landing marked the debut of the carrier-based J-15 fighter-bomber, modeled on Russia’s Sukhoi Su-33.

BEIJING — China has landed a fighter jet on its first aircraft carrier, which entered service two months ago, the country’s official news agency confirmed Sunday.

The Liaoning aircraft carrier underscores China’s ambitions to be a leading Asian naval power, but it is not expected to carry a full complement of planes or be ready for combat for some time.

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Xinhua News Agency said the landing exercise marked the debut of the J-15 fighter jet, a carrier-based fighter-bomber developed by China from Russia’s Sukhoi Su-33.

The Defense Ministry’s website carried photos of the jet taking off from and landing on the carrier. Citing unnamed naval sources, Xinhua said the carrier platform and J-15 capabilities met all requirements and achieved ‘‘good compatibility.’’ Xinhua said the J-15 is able to carry antiship, air-to-air, and air-to-ground missiles and precision-guided bombs.

Since China’s Liaoning ship formally entered into service on Sept. 25, its crew members have completed more than 100 training and test programs, Xinhua said. China bought the former Soviet navy’s unfinished carrier from Ukraine in 1998 and spent years refurbishing it.

China’s relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors, which were once friendly, have been strained in recent years. Japan has voiced anger over Chinese claims to disputed islands, China’s once-reliable ally Myanmar has been flirting with democracy, and the United States is giving renewed attention to the region.

The changing terrain for Beijing was on view this month at a conclave of East Asian nations in Cambodia. Wen Jiabao, China’s lame duck premier, got into a sharp exchange over the contested South China Sea islands. The leaders of the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam reacted furiously when host Cambodia suggested that all sides agreed not to bring outside parties into the dispute — a reference to the United States.

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