BEIJING, -- China's state television revealed footage on 1 August of the country's only operational carrier, Liaoning (CV-16), carrying eight Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-15 fighters as well as a Z-18 and a Z-9 helicopter on its deck.
This represents the largest number of aircraft so far seen on the carrier, which first conducted flight operations in November 2012. The footage prompted Chinese media comments that Liaoning was exhibiting "growing combat capability".
During a 4 August TV programme Rear Admiral Yin Zhou said that, "Once all eight aircraft fly out in formation, they will have a strong combat capability". He further noted that Liaoning could carry up to 20 aircraft.
While China has developed the Changhe Z-18J airborne early warning (AEW) and Z-18F anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters, these have not been seen together with the J-15 on Liaoning . They would likely form a full airwing for the carrier.
This image published by Chinese media on 1 August shows China's only operational aircraft carrier, Liaoning, carrying eight J-15 fighters and two helicopters.