China’s aircraft carrier conducts drills as it sails into Taiwan Strait, state media says
More than 100 combat units take part in drills, including J-15 fighter jets, PLA Daily reports
China’s aircraft carrier strike group performed intensive drills as it sailed into the Taiwan Strait en route to Hong Kong, military media revealed on Monday.
The vessels will arrive in the city on Friday on a visit eagerly awaited by many Hongkongers. Thousands lined up outside PLA barracks overnight on Sunday hoping to score tickets to tour the vessels this weekend.
The Liaoning strike group entered “first combat readiness” and launched a series of drills when it crossed into a “certain sea area” on Saturday afternoon, PLA Daily reported, without specifying the exact location.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said the group sailed through the strait between Saturday afternoon and Sunday night.
More than 100 combat units took part in the drills, including J-15 fighter jets, which took off from the flight deck, carried out air manoeuvres and landed on the carrier, according to PLA Daily. The training was overseen by Admiral Miao Hua, political commissar and the navy’s No 2, the report said.
J-15 pilots said they had become better able to carry out more complex tasks under different sea and weather conditions, while crew members said they had improved their proficiency and coordination. “Through this training, we further tempered our flying skills, psychological quality and combat morale,” pilot Xu Ying was quoted as saying.
“The purpose of the training was to fix our weak points and highlight the requirements of real combat …to lay a solid ground for the carrier strike group to realise its combat and support capabilities,” fleet Chief of Staff Gao Zhaorui said.
The Liaoning is scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong on Friday, accompanied by the Jinan and Yinchuan destroyers and the Yantai frigate.
Some 2,000 tickets for tours of the vessels were handed out to the public outside the city’s three People’s Liberation barracks, but confusion broke out in the morning when military representatives started giving out collection numbers to people waiting in line, ahead of the 1pm schedule.
By 9.40am, all spots were gone at the Gun Club Hill Barracks in Jordan, leaving many people disappointed.
The carrier group left its home port of Qingdao in the eastern province of Shandong on June 25 and is scheduled to spend five days in the city, as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty.