Originally designated a training and test ship, China's first aircraft carrier the Liaoning is starting to play a combat role following recent modifications and intensive training exercises, the vessel's executive officer revealed amid the celebrations of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's 70th anniversary.
A Wednesday report by China Central Television (CCTV) revealed details on the modifications, which happened during scheduled regular maintenance from August 2018.
The aircraft carrier has been equipped with upgraded arresting cables made of new materials. This will provide a larger buffer capacity when aircraft lands and also extends the cables' life, CCTV reported.
There is a new arresting net stand, which raises a safety net across the flight deck helping halt a landing aircraft in case of emergency.
The superstructure received a boost to its anti-jamming capability, and the flight control tower was enlarged so the crew members have more space and a better view.
The propulsion system and power system also had several optimizations and improvements and they are now more stable and efficient, according to the report.
Other places, including the flight deck and pipeline system, also saw improvements.
Lu Qiangqiang, an executive officer of the Liaoning, told CCTV that the modifications were made thanks to the experiences they had gathered during previous training exercises and trials.
"These changes will definitely help us make the best of the ship, improve our training protocols and boost our combat capability even further," Lu said.
"The Liaoning is shifting from a training and test ship to a combat ship. I believe this process is going faster and faster, and we will achieve our goal very soon," Lu said.
The experiences gained from the Liaoning carrier will also be used on China's new aircraft carriers, an anonymous military expert told the Global Times on Wednesday.
China's second aircraft carrier is expected to be commissioned soon, and the expert said that although the new carrier looks similar to the Liaoning, it is likely to have been further modified, making it a stronger warship.
"Through the development of the Liaoning carrier, we learned some technical patterns in building large and super-large vessels," CCTV quoted Yin Zhuo, a senior researcher at the PLA Naval Equipment Research Center, as saying.
The commissioning of the Liaoning was a comprehensive boost to the development of the PLA Navy, and its benefit will become very clear in a decade or two, Yin said.