China’s second aircraft carrier ready to go to South China Sea to deter trouble-makers: expert

▲The Shandong aircraft carrier is moored at a naval port in Sanya, south China’s Hainan Province. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

The latest training video for China’s first domestically made aircraft carrier, Shandong, shows that the ship has obtained basic capacity and is ready to go to wider areas to improve its fighting capacity through practice, Chinese military experts told the Global Times on Wednesday.   

A video of Shandong training activities was released by China Central Television (CCTV) on Tuesday. The carrier reportedly conducted training on the Bohai Sea between September 1 and 23. 

The Shandong, has completed regular testing and training missions at sea focusing on actual combat and has served in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy for 10 months, CCTV reported. 

The Shandong, the country’s second aircraft carrier, was commissioned by the PLA Navy on December 17, 2019, in Sanya, South China’s Hainan Province. 

The new CCTV video showed the take-off and landing of the J-15 carrier aircraft and live firing by the Shandong. The Z-9S helicopter also appeared in the video, and was probably involved in search and rescue exercises for damage control.

Li Jie, a Beijing-based military expert, said that the Shandong has gained basic fighting capacity in less than a year since being commissioned by the PLA Navy. 

With live firing being conducted on the ship, China’s dual aircraft carrier strike group is no longer just a concept, Li told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

“In general, it takes one to two years for a new aircraft carrier to form basic fighting capacity, but the Shandong achieved this in less than one year, even though China had only one aircraft carrier and limited experience. This shows that the quality of the training is pretty good,” Li noted. 

The J-15 fighter is undoubtedly the most important component of the aircraft carrier’s combat capacity. And the aircraft carrier never goes out alone but in formation, combining air, surface, and underwater forces to face the enemy. 

The J-15 is like the vanguard of the group with the other members of the group having their own specialties and being able to exert collective advantages in the group, Li explained.

Releasing a training video when the first anniversary of the ship’s commission is approaching is a demonstration to the world that the Shandong, like a disciple who has finished learning, is ready to go to wider sea areas, Li said. 

“This means that the Shandong has mastered the basic skills and is capable of navigating the world,” Li said, adding that the ship needs to continue to improve its combat capacity through practice. 

Being commissioned in Sanya means that the Shandong will serve the PLA in the Southern Theater Command, focusing on the South China Sea. 

Since the beginning of this year, the US has continuously conducted provocative activities in the South China Sea, such as sending reconnaissance planes and conducting military exercises in the area. 

The US, Japan and Australia held a joint exercise in the South China Sea on October 19. 

Under these circumstances, the Shandong will head to the south and conduct routine navigation, which will be an effective deterrent to stabilize the regional situation, according to Li. 

“It is like a group of gangsters who break into our homes to make trouble, so we deploy some strong guards with knives at the door. This will deter the gangsters effectively,” Li said.


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