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People's Daily Online

Chinese aircraft carrier may conduct open sea exercises

People's Daily Online

(People's Daily Online) 14:59, October 31, 2013

On 23rd October, the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning set sail on a voyage to conduct further scientific research, experiments, and drills. Some analysts suggest that the Liaoning might travel to the Western Pacific to participate in a military exercise launched by the three Chinese naval fleets. Military expert Du Wenlong told the media in an interview that the Liaoning has already met the requirements to enable it to take command of online exercises in coordination with the army.

During this voyage, the Liaoning will carry out experiments and drills mainly involving offshore test flights of shipboard aircraft.

At the same time, a military exercise called Navy "Maneuvering-5" is being launched in a specified area of the Western Pacific. This will be the first time that the navy has organized three fleets and used four military units for open-sea drills at the same time.

Some media have speculated that the Liaoning's open-seas maneuvers may be linked to the three fleets military exercises in the Western Pacific.

Cao Weidong points out that the Liaoning's current role is different from that of other warships participating in the exercise: other warships perform missions such as drills and watch-keeping as part of military service, while at the moment the aircraft carrier performs only training and scientific exercises, and does not conduct watch-keeping missions. Therefore, even if the aircraft carrier participates in the navy exercise, it will not perform full-scale naval and air missions like the other aircraft or warships.

On the other hand, Cao Weidong notes that the Liaoning already possesses some drill and combat capability. In activities such as radar, observation & communication, and information processing, the aircraft carrier can collaborate with other warships and aircraft which will participate in the exercise, and engage in some joint drills. However, there will inevitably be a gap between its active capabilities and those of the large formations of other warships engaged in the actual-combat exercises.

Du Wenlong adds that it would be more difficult for the Liaoning to engage in coordinated communication drills in a vast open-sea area than under the likely conditions of actual combat and formation. If the aircraft carrier participates in the exercise in the Western Pacific and can achieve highly-effective communication and integration of information, then it will have no major problems taking command of formations over relatively short distances in the future.

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