China's navy to test Shandong aircraft carrier in 10-day drill

The exercises will also feature China's Type 075 amphibious assault ship.

China's aircraft carrier Liaoning takes part in a military drill of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the western Pacific Ocean. (photo credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)
China's aircraft carrier Liaoning takes part in a military drill of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the western Pacific Ocean.
(photo credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)
China will hold a 10-day military exercise in the South China Sea, just off the southern Chinese Coast, in the waters surrounding Hainan.
The drill will begin on Wednesday, according to the South China Morning Post, which cited China’s maritime safety divisions.
Three simultaneous exercises, aimed at bolstering China's military presence in the contested waters, will feature one of the country's newest aircraft carriers, the Shandong, which entered into the Chinese navy last year and will be combat ready within the next few months.
The exercises will also feature China's Type 075 amphibious assault ship fitted with a helicopter landing dock and will "test new equipment which had joined the service over the past year."
“These exercises are arranged according to the PLA’s annual training plan signed by Xi Jinping, Chairman of the Central Military Mission, in January," a People’s Liberation Army source told the paper.
The drills, which have been in the works for over a month, were postponed earlier in the year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Beijing states that out of its 2.3 million personnel, there are currently no reported coronavirus cases within the military.
The Shandong carrier group sailed through the Taiwan Strait a day after a US warship transited the same waterway. China's military said it tailed the ship.
China's navy said the Shandong and its accompanying ships had "smoothly" transited the sensitive and narrow Taiwan Strait on Sunday, heading for exercises in the South China Sea, where Beijing has made extensive and disputed territorial gains.
The drills are part of "normal arrangements made in accordance with annual plans," it said. "In the future, we will continue to organize similar operations based on training needs."
Taiwan's Defense Ministry said the Shandong was accompanied by four warships and had set out from the northern Chinese port of Dalian on Thursday. Taiwan said it sent six warships and eight air force aircraft to "stand guard" and monitor movement of the Chinese ships.
The Shandong is China's second carrier, and was formally commissioned almost exactly a year ago.
Since then, it has successfully completed tasks such as carrier-based aircraft takeoff and landing and use of its weapons, the Chinese navy said.
"The combat capability of the formation system has been continuously improved in experimental training," it added, referring to the group of warships which accompany the Shandong.
China has been working to hone its carrier operations, but has little experience compared to the United States, which has operated integrated carrier battle groups with multiple vessels for decades.