Car­rier heads to sea

Air­craft car­rier heads out for long-range mis­sion to ex­pand naval de­fense ca­pac­ity, test lo­gis­tics

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The CNS Liaon­ing air­craft car­rier bat­tle group heads for the West­ern Pa­cific for an open-sea ex­er­cise to ex­pand naval de­fense ca­pac­ity.

The CNS Liaon­ing air­craft car­rier bat­tle group has set off for the West­ern Pa­cific where it will take part in an open-sea ex­er­cise, a spokesman for the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Navy has an­nounced.

Se­nior Cap­tain Liang Yang did not pro­vide fur­ther de­tails of the ex­er­cise on Satur­day, but did say that it was part of the group’s an­nual train­ing sched­ule.

Ac­cord­ing to the PLA Navy, the group car­ried out “full-el­e­ment” train­ing in the East China Sea on Satur­day, which mainly in­volved J-15 car­rier-borne fighter jets.

The planes per­formed air tac­ti­cal con­fronta­tion drills and air re­fu­el­ing op­er­a­tions, while ships con­ducted re­sup­ply train­ing, the navy said.

“From the Bo­hai Sea to the Yel­low Sea, and far­ther into the East China Sea, the car­rier bat­tle group … has been ex­plor­ing in­te­grated, sys­tem­atic and re­al­is­tic train­ing meth­ods and per­formed ‘ful­lele­ment’, joint ex­er­cises among the Liaon­ing, car­rier­borne avi­a­tion units and es­cort ships,” read a navy news re­lease.

Footage broad­cast by China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion showed Ad­mi­ral Wu Shengli, com­man­der of the PLA Navy, aboard the Liaon­ing as he over­saw the bat­tle group’s drills. It is not known whether Wu will re­main aboard for the West­ern Pa­cific ex­er­cise.

The Ja­panese De­fense Min­istry said on Sun­day it had spot­ted the Liaon­ing group on Sun­day morn­ing as the fleet was pass­ing through the Miyako Strait to­ward the West­ern Pa­cific. The group con­sists of the air­craft car­rier, three Type 052C and Type 052D guided mis­sile de­stroy­ers and two Type 054A guided mis­sile frigates, ac­cord­ing to a Ja­panese news agency.

In mid-De­cem­ber, the Lia- on­ing group car­ried out its first live-fire ex­er­cise in the Bo­hai Sea.

The car­rier per­formed drills with de­stroy­ers and frigates, with sce­nar­ios in­clud­ing re­con­nais­sance, air­craft in­ter­cep­tion, sea strikes and mis­sile de­fense. Mul­ti­ple groups of J-15s fired mis­siles at des­ig­nated tar­gets, the Chi­nese navy said.

Zhang Jun­she, a se­nior re­searcher at the PLA Naval Mil­i­tary Stud­ies Re­search In­sti­tute, said a long-dis­tance train­ing mis­sion in the West­ern Pa­cific in­di­cates that the Liaon­ing group has gained ini­tial com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity.

“This will ex­pand the Navy’s de­fense range and de­ter en­e­mies’ of­fen­sive op­er­a­tions,” he said, adding that the ma­jor ex­er­cise will also test the group’s lo­gis­tics abil­ity.

The PLA com­mis­sioned the CNS Liaon­ing in Septem­ber 2012 i n Dalian, Liaon­ing prov­ince.

Its bat­tle group took shape in De­cem­ber 2013, when the car­rier and sev­eral es­cort ves­sels, in­clud­ing two guided mis­sile de­stroy­ers, two guided mis­sile frigates and an at­tack sub­ma­rine took part in a long-range for­ma­tion drill in the South China Sea.

MO XIAOLIANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A J-15 fighter takes off from the Liaon­ing on Fri­day dur­ing a fleet train­ing ex­er­cise in the Yel­low Sea.

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