Liaoning is the first aircraft carrier commissioned into the People's Liberation Army Navy Surface Force. It is classified as a training ship, intended to allow the Navy to practice with carrier usage.
Originally laid down as the Admiral Kuznetsov class multirole aircraft carrier Riga for the Soviet Navy, she was launched on December 4, 1988, and renamed Varyag in 1990
The stripped hulk was purchased in 1998 by the People's Republic of China and towed to Dalian shipyard in northeast China
After being completely rebuilt and undergoing sea trials, the ship was commissioned into the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) as Liaoning with the class name Type 001 on September 25, 2012.
In August 2014, the Chinese-language Shanghai Morning Post listed that Liaoning would carry 36 aircraft: 24 Shenyang J-15 fighters, six Changhe Z-18F anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters, four Changhe Z-18J airborne early warning helicopters and two Harbin Z-9C rescue helicopters.
The Chinese carrier aircraft inventory is similar to a balanced combat and support aircraft approach intended for Soviet aircraft carriers, which supported nuclear submarines, large surface combatants, and land-based strike bombers performing anti-access roles.