PLA likely to hold another large-scale exercise by year-end: analyst

06/03/2022 07:39 PM
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The PLA's aircraft carrier Liaoning. CNA file photo

Taipei, June 3 (CNA) The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) might conduct another far sea carrier training drill by the end of this year, a military analyst said earlier this week.

There are signs that China's regional assertiveness is growing and its armed forces are becoming increasingly competent, said Jiang Hsinbiao (江炘杓), an assistant research fellow at Taiwan's Institute for National Defense and Security Research.

In an analysis published Wednesday, Jiang called attention to the recent drills in the Western Pacific by the PLA's Liaoning aircraft carrier group.

The carrier group left its home port of Qingdao on April 30, crossing the Miyako Strait, then it entered the Western Pacific on May 2 for a series of training exercises, Jiang said.

After that, the Liaoning carrier group entered the East China Sea on May 21 for joint sea and air drills, before returning to Qingdao on May 23, he said.

During those exercises, the Shenyang J-15 fighter jet, a carrier capable aircraft, conducted the largest number of takeoffs and landings in a single day since the Liaoning was commissioned a decade ago, Jiang said.

The Shenyang jet carried out an average 15 sorties per day, which meant roughly 300 over the 20-day period, he said, adding that the aircraft was doing nighttime and daytime training flights.

Considering that the Liaoning is a medium-sized carrier equipped with only two elevators, that was a significant number of sorties, Jiang said.

While the battlegroup has carried out similar exercises in the past, they were focused mainly on command and coordination between the carrier and its escort vessels, which amounted to basic training, he said.

In May, however, the exercises were large-scale drills carried out in areas southeast of the Ryukyu Islands and east of Taiwan, with other PLA military units simulating enemy forces, Jiang said.

Alongside the Liaoning naval battlegroup, there were Xian H-6J strategic bombers, Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft and other PLA assets involved in the exercises, Jiang said.

In a bid to hone the combat-readiness of the Liaoning battlegroup, the PLA will likely conduct another similar large-scale drill around the first island chain in the Western Pacific by the end of the year, he forecast.

(By Matt Yu and Ko Lin)

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