The Chinese Communist Party’s Liaoning aircraft carrier recently conducted anti-aircraft and anti-submarine training in the waters of the western Pacific Ocean, according to a report from a state-run radio station on the Chinese mainland. They have exercised the carrier strike group’s combat capability in far-sea operations. Simultaneously, the Shandong, the first mainland-built aircraft carrier, conducts its first far-sea training exercises near the Philippines in the western Pacific Ocean’s deep waters. This is the first time two Chinese aircraft carriers have simultaneously appeared in the western Pacific. According to mainland Chinese experts, this is in preparation for future joint operations of the dual aircraft carrier formation, which has significant implications for China’s anti-regional intervention and deep-sea combat capabilities.
The Ministry of National Defence has stated that, in response to the movements of the two aircraft carriers from mainland China, the national military is employing joint intelligence surveillance measures to closely monitor the movements of the Chinese military and the situation in the surrounding areas throughout the entire process. They maintain high vigilance and respond appropriately to defend national security.
Zhou Jianqiang, commanding officer of the Liaoning aircraft carrier and former captain of the Xi’ning, stated, according to a report from mainland China’s state-run radio station, that they are building typical scenarios that highlight the deployment and practical training of far-sea combat capabilities. They insist on employing a systematic approach, coupling dynamic moulding with combat training, practising command, tactics, and capabilities, and enhancing the combat capabilities of the aircraft carrier strike group during deep-sea operations. CCTV footage shows multiple ships sailing around the Liaoning carrier and aircraft taking off and landing on its deck. Throughout the training period, foreign military ships and aircraft have conducted continuous close reconnaissance and monitoring surveillance. According to the state-run radio station report, a plane from the Liaoning carrier was spotted observing an F-15 fighter jet from a foreign military.
Shandong heads to Guam
In addition, the first Chinese-made aircraft carrier Shandong participated in the Taiwan Combat Readiness Police Patrol and the “Joint Sword” exercise from the 8th to the 10th of this month off the coast of eastern Taiwan. According to a report released on April 17 by the Japanese Self-Defense Force’s Integrated Staff and Supervision Department, the China Southern Theatre Navy’s ocean-going training formation centred on the Shandong carrier aircraft carrier did not turn around and return to the west after the “Joint Sword” military exercise around the Taiwan Strait, but instead continued east to the western Pacific Ocean’s depths and Guam. On the fourteenth, the formation sailed to a location 520 kilometres southwest of Okinotori Reef. On the 16th, the most recent position was 710 kilometres south-southeast of Okinotori Reef, west of Guam. Guam, a significant military base in the second island chain of the United States, is only 400 miles away. It is believed that the Shandong ship is presently conducting long-distance training in the South China Sea and the Western Pacific.
This is the second occasion that a Chinese aircraft carrier has approached Guam, following the Liaoning ship in December of last year. The distances between the two approaches were roughly equivalent, ranging between 300 and 400 miles. In March of this year, the Shandong ship attained permission for combat readiness training by achieving the objectives of the predetermined combat capability. Liang Huadong, the director of the Shandong ship’s steering squad, was quoted by mainland media as saying that the Liaoning ship would soon join the Shandong ship on the high seas.
Type 055 destroyer, the Xianyang, unveiled
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) now has eight ships of the Type 055 destroyer operating thanks to the unveiling of the eighth Type 055 destroyer, the Xianyang Ship, on April 21. According to CCTV military dispatches, the Dalian had hull number 105, and the Yan’an, which had hull number 106, were docked alongside the Xianyang in the same port. The Type 055 Renhai class Guided Missile Destroyer is the first 10,000-ton destroyer developed and built by China.
The Chinese claim that the Type 055 destroyer’s technical and tactical characteristics and performance parameters are most similar to those of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer among destroyers of the same calibre worldwide.
Compared with several types of missile destroyers currently in service with the Chinese Navy, the Type 055 destroyer has a larger displacement, interior space, and propulsion power, which also means it has greater potential for improvement and upgrades. To some extent, this is also the main factor determining the final number of Type 055 destroyers to be built.