Aircraft carrier PLA Shandong holds drills in the South China Sea as a full combat group

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy aircraft carrier Shandong is conducting realistic combat-oriented exercises in the South China Sea in early fall 2022. Photo: Screenshot from WeChat account of the PLA South Sea Fleet

The shandongthe second aircraft carrier of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy and the first built in the country, recently held comprehensive exercises in the South China Sea in a group composed of full combat elements, this which analysts said showed on Thursday that the aircraft carrier is preparing for far-off maritime operations.

The aircraft carrier shandong conducted realistic combat-focused drills in an undisclosed area of ​​the South China Sea in early fall to thoroughly test the force’s combat capabilities, the South Sea Fleet said on Wednesday. the PLA in a press release.

During the exercises, the shandong hosted take-off and landing operations of J-15 carrier-based fighter jets and practiced refueling operations at sea, according to the press release.

A video attached to the press release showed the carrier maneuvering in a battle group that included a large Type 055 destroyer, a Type 052D destroyer, a Type 054A frigate and a Type 901 full supply ship.

This means that the shandong practiced in a flotilla comprised of full combat elements, and such a carrier battle group configuration is basically the same as that which would be used in an actual operation, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told Global News on Thursday. Times.

Previously, the aircraft carrier Liaoning, the premier aircraft carrier of the PLA Navy, led a group consisting of a large Type 055 destroyer, three Type 052D destroyers, a Type 052C destroyer, a Type 054A frigate and a Type 901 full supply ship for a distant sea exercise in the Western Pacific in May.

In comparison, the Liaoning carrier group had more ships, but the shandong The carrier group usually has all these types of ships, namely the large destroyer, the destroyer, the frigate and the supply ship. As the shandong still gaining capabilities, more ships will join the group, the expert said.

Generally speaking, a nuclear-powered attack submarine would also be part of an aircraft carrier group, the expert noted.

The shandong reportedly underwent maintenance earlier this year at the shipyard where it was built. It is now ready for deep-sea operations, analysts said.

As the first aircraft carrier built in China and the second overall, the shandong entered service with the PLA Navy on December 17, 2019 in Sanya, south China’s Hainan Province.

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