China aircraft carrier pilots complete first night missions

Chinese navy pilots aboard the country's sole operating aircraft carrier have completed their first nighttime takeoffs and landings.

The missions were being hailed by state media Friday as a major step forward in the combat ability of the Liaoning, which was bought as a mostly empty hull from Ukraine and commissioned in 2012 along with its flight wing.

In footage released late Thursday, J-15 fighter jets were shown taking off and landing in the darkness, their afterburners glowing. Nighttime missions are considered far more difficult and dangerous than those in the daytime.

China's said this month its second carrier, the first built entirely in China, had completed five days of sea trials. The ships are seen as backing up Beijing's claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea.