China holds first live-fire drills in Bohai Sea with aircraft carrier, warships

Authorities say the drills were aimed to test the equipment and troop training levels.

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Chinese naval vessels participate in a drill on the East China Sea, China on Aug 1. Reuters

China carried out its first ever live-fire drills in the northeastern Bohai Sea that is close to Korea using an aircraft carrier and fighters, the state media said on 15 December.

The state broadcaster Chinese Central Television (CCTV) reported late on Thursday that ten vessels and ten aircraft were engaged in air-to-air, air-to-sea and sea-to-air combat drills featuring guided missiles.

"This is the first time an aircraft carrier squadron has performed drills with live ammunition and real troops," it said.

An unidentified navy official told the official China News Service that the drills were aimed to test types of equipment and troops' training levels.

CCTV further said that China's Soviet-built Liaoning aircraft carrier and a formation of warships carried out an aerial interception, anti-aircraft and anti-missile drills. Shenyang J-15 fighter jets also participated in the drill carrying live missiles.

The growing military presence of China in the disputed waters of South China Sea has fuelled concern among the other claimants. The United States has always criticised its militarization of maritime outposts and regular air and naval patrols to ensure freedom of navigation in the region.

On Wednesday, a US think tank said China had been installing anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems on artificial islands in the South China Sea. This move prompted the Asian giant to defend its right to install military hardware there.

However, unlike the South China Sea, no other country has claims in the Bohai Sea, which is a busy northeastern Chinese waterway.

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