Chinese Liaoning Carrier Strike Group Now Operating in the Philippine Sea

December 19, 2022 12:46 PM
People’s Liberation Army Navy carrier Liaoning and its strike group are underway near the Philippine Sea. JSDF Photo

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Liaoning Carrier Strike Group is now operating in the Philippine Sea, according to Japan’s Ministry of Defense.

Meanwhile, a PLAN survey ship entered Japan’s territorial waters on Monday and two Chinese H-6 bombers flew in and out of the Pacific Ocean on Monday afternoon, according to news releases from the Joint Staff Office (JSO) in the Ministry of Defense.

At 10 a.m. on Thursday, carrier CNS Liaoning (16), accompanied by cruiser CNS Anshan (103), destroyer CNS Chengdu (120), frigate CNS Zhaozhuang (542) and fast combat support ship CNS Hulunhu (901), was sighted sailing south 440 kilometers west of Fukue Island in the East China Sea, according to a Friday release from the JSO. At 12 p.m., cruiser CNS Wuxi (104) was sighted sailing southeast in an area 420 kilometers west of Fukue Island. Wuxi then joined the Liaoning CSG and all six ships sailed south together through the Miyako Strait into the Pacific Ocean on Friday.

Liaoning launched and recovered its helicopters while in the East China Sea, according to the release from Japan’s Ministry of Defense. Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104), together with a JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 4 stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu and a JMSDF P-3MPA of Fleet Air Wing 5 stationed at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, monitored the PLAN CSG.

A People’s Liberation Army Navy J-15 carrier fighter takes off from Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning in the Philippine Sea. JSDF Photo

On Saturday at 11 a.m., Liaoning – along with Wuxi, Chengdu, Zhaozhuang and Hulunhu – was sighted in an area 260 kilometers southwest of Oki Daito Island, according to a Sunday news release from the Japanese government. Oki Daito is part of the Daito Islands group, which lies southeast of Okinawa, in the Philippine Sea. Liaoning conducted flight operations of its embarked fighters and helicopters from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Destroyer Kirisame continues to shadow the group and Japan Air Self-Defense Force fighter aircraft scrambled in response to the PLAN fighter jets taking off from Liaoning, according to the release.

The Liaoning CSG last deployed in the same area in May, when it conducted drills for over two weeks. Of the seven ships that accompanied Liaoning then, only Chengdu and Hulunhu are with the current CSG. Several other PLAN ships are also operating around the Pacific Ocean, with a surface action group comprising of cruiser CNS Lhasa (102), destroyer CNS Kaifeng (124) and replenishment ship CNS Taihu (889) transiting through the Osumi Strait into the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday. Meanwhile, on Thursday, destroyer CNS Taizhou (138) transited the Miyako Strait into the Pacific Ocean. Destroyer CNS Nanjing (155) and frigate CNS Anyang (599) transited into the Pacific Ocean via the Miyako Strait on Dec. 3.

Location of Liaoning in the Philippine Sea on Dec. 18, 2022. JSDF image

On Monday at 3:20 a.m., a PLAN hydrograph survey ship was sighted sailing westwards in an area 50 kilometers south-east of Tanegashima Island, part of the Osumi Islands group which lies south of the main island of Kyushu, according to a release issued by Japan’s Ministry of Defense. The hull number provided identified the ship as CNS Chen Jingrun (26). The PLAN ship entered Japan’s contiguous zone south of Tanegashima and at 6:50 a.m. It then entered Japan’s territorial waters south of Yakushima Island and left Japan’s territorial waters west of Kuchinoerabu Island at 10:30 a.m. and sailed southwest. A JMSDF P-1 MPA of Fleet Air Wing 1 based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base, Kyushu monitored the PLAN ship, according to the release.

On Monday afternoon, two Chinese H-6 bombers flew in from the East China Sea and passed over the Miyako Strait into the Pacific Ocean before turning back at a point southeast of Oki Daito Island and transiting over the Miyako Strait into the East China Sea, according to a JSO news release issued Monday. JASDF fighters scrambled in response.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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