Exercises in the South China Sea draw South, North and East Sea fleets, and come ahead of an international ruling on Beijing’s claims in the waters
The PLA Navy has carried out its largest live-fire drill yet in the South China Sea, ahead of a ruling by an international tribunal on a dispute with the Philippines over claims to the strategic waters.
Warships from the north and east fleets joined the south fleet in the drills, the army mouthpiece PLA Daily said on its website.
They focused on “air control operations, sea battles and anti-submarine warfare”, it said.
The exercise was also significant because it brought together top generals in a joint command scenario. Navy chief General Wu Shengli joined leaders from the powerful Central Military Commission’s Joint Staff Department, Training Management and the South Theatre Command for the for the exercise.
CCTV broadcast images of fighter aircraft and ships firing missiles, helicopters taking off and submarines surfacing. Yuncheng destroyer.
One picture posted by PLA Daily showed a 054A-type destroyer launching a HQ-9 missile.
The Daily insisted the exercises were “routine” and unrelated to the ruling.
But Antony Wong Dong, a Macau-based military observer, said the prominence of the south fleet was noteworthy.
“The PLA has always said its drills do not target a third party. But warships from the South Sea Fleet are playing key roles in the drills, and commanders on-site are all top leaders in the army, hinting that the US Navy was the imagined target,” Wong said.
Full article: PLA warships carry out biggest live-fire drills yet in South China Sea (South China Morning Post)