- The PLAN has conducted J-15 operations from its aircraft carrier in the South China Sea
- Service may be preparing the carrier strike group for more complex combat operations in the area
The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has deployed its sole aircraft carrier, Liaoning, to the South China Sea, where it conducted take-off and landing drills with the J-15 multirole fighter aircraft.
According to a report published by the state-controlled news agency Xinhua on 3 January citing a Chinese military source, the drills were conducted the previous day, and also involved a number of unspecified naval helicopters.
However the report had no details on the number of J-15s deployed in the exercise.
Liaoning 's activities in the South China Sea come on the back of its inaugural deployment into the West Pacific in December 2016, where the ship passed through the Miyako Strait south of the Japanese island of Okinawa.
The aircraft carrier was then accompanied by a Luyang III-class (Type 052D) destroyer, Changsha, two Luyang II-class (Type 052C) destroyers, Zhengzhou and Haikou, and two Jiangkai II-class (Type 054A) frigates, Yantai and Linyi.
It is unclear if the same ships were in formation with Liaoning during its latest drills in the South China Sea.
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