China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier group carried out its first ever “combat exercises” in the Western Pacific on 20-21 April, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Beijing announced on 22 April.
The exercise, which took place in an area east of the Bashi Channel, involved a total of six People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) major surface combatants along with the service’s only operating aircraft carrier, Liaoning , the latter of which deployed helicopters and Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC)] J-15 fighters.
The carrier group practised strike and defence manoeuvres and honed its long-range combat capabilities, the state-owned China Daily newspaper quoted the PLAN as saying, adding that the latest combat training was aimed at “verifying the collaborative ability of the group's vessels and aircraft, examining the group's offensive and defensive systems and fostering the ability of commanders to make decisions when faced with complicated circumstances”.
The latest exercise took place after Liaoning participated on 12 April in a naval parade in the South China Sea alongside 47 other PLAN vessels, 76 aircraft, and 10,000 personnel as part of a fleet review.
The event, which took place after the carrier had taken part in naval exercises in the area, was the largest review ever staged by the PLAN and served to showcase the “new-look People’s Navy”, according to the MND.
The ministry also referred to the importance of a speech made at the review by Chinese President Xi Jinping, in which he stated that “building a powerful people’s navy has never been as urgent as it is today in the struggle for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.
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