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PLA Navy Aircraft Carrier Engages in Combat Exercises in South China Sea

Jan. 16, 2022 (EIRNS)—At the same time that the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group is operating in the South China Sea, the Chinese PLA Navy’s Shandong aircraft carrier and its accompanying flotilla are carrying out “realistic combat-oriented confrontational exercises in the South China Sea,” the PLA Navy said in a statement on Jan. 14, reported the Global Times. The drills simulated hostile aircraft attacks, and J-15 fighter jets took off from the Shandong and carried out interception training, the statement said. During the exercises, the carrier group also practiced cross-service multidimensional attack and defense on the surface, in the air and underwater, with new J-15 pilots becoming certified for nighttime operational capabilities, marking another big step toward forming a systematic combat capability.

By training in the South China Sea, a location where the maritime environment is more complicated, the Shandong demonstrated its capabilities despite challenging situations, Chinese military expert Song Zhongping told Global Times. The training in a flotilla also showed the Shandong has integrated with other vessels, Song said. “The Liaoning recently conducted drills in the West Pacific, and now the Shandong is practicing in the South China Sea. In the future, the two carriers might form a dual carrier group and train together,” he said.

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