The Chinese Navy is ready for dual aircraft carrier operations, similar to the US Navy, with the completion of testing and training of its second aircraft carrier, Shangong, according to a Beijing based military expert.
The first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning is already qualified for sea-faring missions and carries a complement of J-15 fighter jets which will also operate off the Shandong.
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.
Li Jie, a Beijing-based military expert, told Global Times 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.
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 CCTV video showes take-off and landing of the J-15 carrier aircraft and live firing by the Shandong. The Z-9S search and rescue helicopter was also part of the on-sea training mission.
The Shandong was commissioned by the PLA Navy on December 17, 2019, in Sanya, South China’s Hainan Province and its completion of testing in fast-forward mode is nothing short of impressive, the CCTV program implied.
“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.
“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. The Shandong will serve the PLA in the Southern Theater Command, focusing on the South China Sea, he said.
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.