Amid the increasing stress between Beijing and Washington ties over Taiwan, China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning has carried out exercises in the Yellow Sea. A naval formation that included the new carrier, frigates and several destroyers was on a training and testing mission last week, state-run news agency Xinhua said.
The training programme involved several J-15 carrier-borne jets and helicopters. J-15 is the new fighter jet which is being developed by China to operate from the deck of the carrier. On Friday, several J-15s took off from the Liaoning, on test assignments including air refuelling and air confrontation in the Yellow Sea. The training was conducted by the Wu Shengli, the Navy Commander of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) .
Commenting on the progress of the drill, Shengli said “it had strengthened the synergy among different vessels in the formation and refined its overall capability.” The training and other assignments were conducted in accordance with navy’s annual plan. Since it was approved in 2012, the Liaoning has been carrying out various such training and tests regularly.
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The Liaoning conducted its first live-fire exercise last week, with the military releasing video footage that showed Chinese J-15 fighters launching missiles and hitting targets. In a similar training exercise sometime back, the formation had also conducted a live ammunition drill in the Bohai Sea which lies in the coastal waters between China and the Korean peninsula.
Chinese government has claimed that the carrier is built from an incomplete hull from Ukraine and it would be used mostly for training and research purposes.
Earlier reports said the aircraft carrier would be deployed in the disputed South China Sea when it is ready. China has become more assertive over the South China Sea after an international tribunal struck down its claim over parts of the area.