China, August 22:
Warships from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have completed a three-day live-fire drill in the East China Sea, according to an official report.
The exercise involved a flotilla from the PLA Navy’s East Sea Fleet and simulated a “sudden encounter with the enemy in the air and on the surface”, the navy’s social media platform Naval News said.
The report did not give a precise location or say when the drill took place, but the PLA Eastern Theatre Command said last week that manoeuvres had taken place in the Taiwan Strait, and to the north and south of the self-ruled island.
The PLA flotilla was led by the Hangzhou, a Russian-made Sovremenny-class guided-missile destroyer, according to the report. The Xuzhou, a type 054A guided-missile frigate, was also involved.
The vessels simulated dealing with an attack from anti-ship missiles. This included releasing a smoke cover, taking evasive action, changing formation and firing air defence missiles and close-in weapon system guns.
“The training … laid a solid foundation for winning a battle, while polishing the troops’ combat capability,” the report said.
The report came after the USS Mustin – an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer – and the JS Suzutsuki – a Japanese Akizuki-class guided-missile destroyer – took part in a joint operation in the East China Sea last week.
The US vessel – from the US 7th Fleet based in Japan – and the Japanese vessel – from the Maritime Self-Defence Force – conducted integrated helicopter operations, multi-domain tactical training, as well as communication and formation drills, according to a statement issued by the 7th Fleet on Wednesday morning.
After the exercise, the Mustin sailed through the Taiwan Strait to rejoin its carrier strike group, led by the USS Ronald Reagan. En route it passed by the Taipei-governed Matsu Islands, which lie just off mainland China’s east coast and were once home to Taiwanese military outposts.
A PLA Navy guided-missile destroyer and a Taiwanese guided-missile frigate monitored the US warship’s passage.
The Eastern Theatre Command said on Wednesday that the military was on “high alert” to protect China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and monitor US activity in the region.
The US 7th Fleet said it “conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of US national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of operations”.
The passage of the Mustin through the Taiwan Strait was the eighth by a US warship this year.Chinese and American forces have increased their military activity in the region in response to rising tensions between the two countries.