China’s first aircraft carrier formation which moved close to Taiwan and conducted drills in the disputed South China Sea has returned to Qingdao port after finishing exercises and testing combat-capability, the Chinese navy has said. Comprised of aircraft carrier Liaoning, a number of destroyers, some J-15 carrier-based fighter jets and helicopters, the fleet sailed through the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South China sea, it said.
The formation, which set off on Christmas day, passed through the Miyakato, Bashi and Taiwan straits, according to the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Taiwan protectively rushed fighter jests and naval ships.
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The Chinese navy said J-15 fighter jets on board the carrier carried out exercises including taking off and landing in different hydrological and meteorological conditions, air-combat tactics, air refuelling, and others.
The drills verified the combat capability of the aircraft carrier formation and construction and command of the high sea combat system, the PLAN said.
Chen Yueqi, commander of the formation, said the drill simulated real combat as much as possible and achieved expected results. Future drills of Liaoning will be determined by actual situations, the PLAN said.
China is currently manufacturing second aircraft carrier with plans to build a third one.