China Mourns Top Manager of J-15 Fighter Jet Program
BEIJING, November 26 (RIA Novosti) – China gave high praise on Monday to the head of the Shenyang Aircraft Corp. (SAC), who died while witnessing the first successful deck landing of the new carrier-based Shenyang J-15 fighter jet, Xinhua reported.
Luo Yuang, 51, had a sudden heart attack aboard China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, around noon on Sunday, Xinhua said citing the obituary issued by the SAC.
China’s state-run CCTV television opened its noon news broadcast on Monday with the announcement of Luo’s death as a sign of high respect to a man who dedicated his life to the development of Chinese fighter jets.
Luo’s career at the SAC spanned over 30 years. He became chairman and general manager of the corporation in 2007 and personally oversaw the development and production of the J-15, derived from Russia’s Sukhoi Su-33 carrier-based fighter.
The successful J-15 deck landing marks a crucial step in the development of China’s ambitious aircraft carrier program as landing tests of carrier-based aircraft are the most challenging to perform.
"It's like 'dancing on a knifepoint' as the aircraft have to land on a very limited space," Xinhua quoted Vice-Admiral Zhang Yongyi, a deputy commander of the Chinese Navy.
The J-15s had made many landings on land-based mock-ups of Liaoning’s deck and performed a number of touch-and-go take-offs and landings during sea trials last month before attempting an arrested landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier, according to Chinese naval experts.
Since the Liaoning entered service in September 2012, its crew has completed more than 100 training and testing programs.
The Admiral Kuznetsov class Varyag aircraft carrier was 70 percent complete when China bought it from Ukraine for $20 million in 1998. Before being sold, the ship was disarmed and its engines were removed.
China launched a complete overhaul of the ship in 2002, also developing carrier-based aircraft. Beijing has repeatedly insisted the carrier poses no threat to its neighbors and that it will primarily be used for training and research.
The 1,000-ft vessel is designed to carry 26 aircraft and 24 helicopters.
China is reportedly building at least one domestically-designed aircraft carrier, with local media speculating that two hulls may currently be under construction.
The United States and its traditional allies in the Pacific – Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – have already expressed concern over the recent successes in the development of China’s ambitious aircraft carrier program as Beijing’s growing naval power may weaken their influence in the region.
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