Japan dispatched helicopter carriers and reconnaissance planes to follow the Liaoning strike group during exercises near the Okinawa Islands.
Japan’s Defense Ministry announced yesterday that it has deployed the Izumo helicopter carrier and P-1 and P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and fighters to patrol China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier strike force. The country is conducting drills in the waters to the south from Japan through the Okinawa Islands and east of Taiwan.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense also released images taken from the Izumo ship showing the J-15 fighter jet taking off from the Liaoning’s jumper. The Chinese aircraft carrier is escorted by five destroyers, including a Type 055 heavy destroyer, a missile frigate and a support ship. The previous group of warships passed through the Miyako Strait between the Okinawa island chain to enter the Pacific Ocean.
China’s naval spokesman Gao Xiucheng said on May 3 that the Liaoning battle group “is conducting regular training,” assuring that the operation is in line with international law and practice and “does not target any party.”
The Liaoning Strike Group’s deployment comes weeks after China held large-scale sea and air exercises in the East China Sea. China claims these activities are “in response to recent frequent US false signals on the Taiwan issue.”
This is the Liaoning Aircraft Carrier Strike Group’s first training session in the Pacific Ocean since December 2021. The US aircraft carrier strike group USS Abraham Lincoln is deployed to the Philippine Sea. This means the US and Chinese Carrier Battle Groups cannot operate too far apart.
The Miyako Strait, located between the islands of Okinawa and Miyakojima southwest of Japan, is a strategic international shipping route through the country’s exclusive economic zone and plays a very important role in the sea’s ability to reach the Pacific Ocean.
vu appendix (Corresponding SCMP)