The Chinese Navy recently conducted a combat exercise in the western Pacific Ocean involving its aircraft and ships, the Navy said in a news release on Thursday afternoon.
Dozens of fighter jets, bombers, electronic warfare aircraft and early-warning planes from the South Sea Fleet took off from multiple air bases of the fleet. They then joined the exercise with ships of the 28th Escort Fleet that is sailing toward the Gulf of Aden, according to the release. It did not elaborate on the time or exact location of the exercise.
Photos published by the Navy show that the aircraft involved in the operation included the J-11 fighter jet, H-6 bomber, KJ-200 and KJ-500 early-warning planes.
The 28th Escort Fleet was formed by three vessels from the North Sea Fleet - two guided-missile frigates and a supply ship - and left a naval port in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Dec 3.
The Navy said the long-range drill was part of the South Sea Fleet's annual training plan and complied with international laws and norms, adding that it wasn't aimed at any specific nation, region or target. The operation did not affect the "freedom of navigation and flight" in related waters and airspace, according to the release.
The release quoted commanders of the fleet's aviation wing as saying that such long-distance operations have become a regular activity for naval aviation forces. They said realistic combat training between aircraft and ships in rough weather and complicated electromagnetic environments has verified and enhanced their units' operational capabilities.
"Such exercises effectively improved the Navy's ability to handle the currently sophisticated situations and to safeguard the nation's interests on the sea. We will continue to execute such exercises," the release said.
The exercise has been the Navy's latest large-scale operation this month. About two weeks ago, the Navy mobilized more than 40 ships from its three fleets to carry out a live-fire air defense drill in the East China Sea.