China’s First Aircraft Carrier Goes Out to Sea

29-Dec-2016 Intellasia | Popularmechanics | 6:00 AM Print This Post

China’s first aircraft carrier conducted its first seagoing voyage, travelling from northern China to southern China and transiting several hotspots along the way. The eight ship carrier battle group is the most powerful Chinese naval task force in six hundred years.

China’s first and only aircraft carrier, Liaoning, left its home port at Qingdao in northern China and took a politically charged route through Japan’s Ryukyu islan

Primarily a training carrier meant to train China’s future naval aviators, Liaoning has rarely left the coastline of northern China. The carrier mainly conducts operations in the Yellow Sea between China and the Korean peninsula. Not only was this Liaoning’s longest voyage, it was also spotted with thirteen Shenyang J-15 “Flying Shark” fighters on the flight deck – the most ever.

Accompanying the carrier was a full complement of surface escorts including two Type 052C and one Type 052D destroyers. The Type 052 class is an anti-air warfare destroyer similar to the US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Also accompanying the carrier were 2 Type 054A frigates, 1 Type 056A anti-submarine warfare corvette, and one Type 903A supply ship. This gives Liaoning a well-rounded protective screen of China’s most modern anti-air and anti-submarine escorts.

US Navy carrier strike groups are typically escorted by a nuclear attack submarine. Although such a submarine wasn’t spotted in Liaoning’s presence, it’s possible one was present and simply cruising underwater. If a Chinese submarine was detected, it would be customary to not acknowledge its presence, so the Chinese Navy doesn’t realise how easily their submarines are detected.

The Chinese Navy is currently involved in an unprecedented level of muscle-flexing. The trip followed Liaoning’s first-ever live fire drills in the Gulf of Bohai in mid-December. It also follows the installation of weapons on China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea and theft of a US Navy undersea drone.

Here’s a video from the carrier exercises earlier this month:


Category: China

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