Analysis: China deploys its Carrier Strike Group during drills

According to information published by the Eurasian Times on December 28, 2022, a Chinese Carrier Strike Group (CSG) led by the aircraft carrier Liaoning has been carrying out military drills in the western Pacific, simulating attacks on Japan’s Nansei Islands. A few days later, China sent 47 aircraft to the Taiwan Strait. This represents the largest incursion into the island's airspace in recent months.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 A J-15 carrier-borne fighter jet takes off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Liaoning during a maritime training exercise. (Picture source: Chinamil)

The aircraft carrier Liaoning of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy reportedly hosted about 130 aircraft sorties in four days after it entered the West Pacific for far sea drills, more than twice as intensive as the exercises held in the same region in May, displaying the carrier's high level of combat readiness.

Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force spotted the PLA Navy's Liaoning aircraft carrier group, including the Type 055 large destroyers Anshan and Wuxi, the Type 052D destroyer Chengdu, the Type 054A frigate Zaozhuang and the Type 901 comprehensive replenishment ship Hulunhu, sailing in the West Pacific south of Japan around Okidaitojima island and Kitadaitojima island.

During this period, the Liaoning hosted about 60 sorties of carrier-based fighter jets and about 70 sorties of carrier-based helicopters, or about 130 aircraft sorties in total. J-15 fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Liaoning carried air-to-air missiles in their sorties.

By comparison, the Liaoning hosted more than 300 fighter jet and helicopter sorties in some 20 days in the far sea exercises in the West Pacific in May, and it was deemed by observers as the most sortie-intensive exercise by the Chinese carrier in the region at the time.

This means that the aircraft sorties during the four days were more than twice as intensive as the exercise in May, and if the Liaoning keeps training at this rate, this voyage will set a record.

A few days later, on December 25, some 47 of the detected aircraft crossed the so-called median line of the Taiwan Straits and entered the island's "southwest air defense identification zone," including 12 J-11 fighter jets, six Su-30 fighter jets, a CH-4 armed reconnaissance drone, six J-10 fighter jets, 18 J-16 fighter jets, a Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft, a Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, a KJ-500 and a WZ-7 reconnaissance drone.

In August 2022 a series of military exercises by the People's Republic of China (PRC) encircled Taiwan. They initially lasted from 4–7 August 2022 and involved live-fire drills, air sorties, naval deployments, and ballistic missile launches by the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The exercises started in response to US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.