Chinese Aircraft Carrier, Warships Massing for Major Exercise Near the Philippines

September 13, 2023 2:04 PM
A Taiwanese destroyer monitoring the People’s Liberation Army Navy aircraft carrier CNS Shandong (17). Taiwan Ministry of Defense Photo

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Shandong Carrier Strike Group is operating in the Philippine Sea, being shadowed separately by Republic of China Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyers, according to both countries.

Meanwhile, North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday – shortly before its leader, Kim Jong Un, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia – marking the first time North Korea has conducted such a launch while its leader was overseas.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense in a Wednesday social media post stated that a total of 35 PLA aircraft had been detected – 28 of which crossed the median line between China and Taiwan, entering Taiwan’s southwest air defence identification zone. Taiwan also reported that PLAN aircraft carrier Shandong had sailed into the western Pacific. A follow up post stated that the ROC Armed Forces were monitoring the situation and had tasked combat air patrol aircraft, navy vessels and land-based missile systems to respond, and included a picture of destroyer ROCS Kee Lung (DDG-1801) (former Kidd-class destroyer USS Scott [DDG-995]) shadowing the carrier.

Japan’s Joint Staff Office of the Ministry of Defense issued a release stating that at 8 a.m. Wednesday, the Shandong CSG was 403 miles south of Miyako Island, with a map showing the CSG closer to Luzon in the Philippines than to Japan or Taiwan. The CSG consisted of six ships: carrier CNS Shandong (17), destroyers CNS Guilin (164) and CNS Changsha (173), frigates CNS Xianning (500) and CNS Xuchang (536) and fleet oiler CNS Chaganhu (905). The carrier conducted launches and recovery of both fighter aircraft and helicopters, according to the release, which also stated that destroyer JS Ariake (DD-109) was shadowing the CSG.

Several or all eight PLAN surface ships that transited the Miyako Strait Monday are expected to join the Shandong CSG for drills. China’s Ministry of National Defense has not issued a statement or commented on the CSG’s current deployment.

JSDF Image

Meanwhile, Japan’s Ministry of Defense stated in a Wednesday release that North Korea had launched two ballistic missiles from its west coast that morning. The missiles headed east and eventually landed in the Sea of Japan, outside Japan’s economic exclusion zone.

The first missile was launched at 11:41 a.m. with a maximum altitude of 31 miles. It flew for 217 miles on a normal ballistic trajectory, according to the release. The second missile was launched at 1:51 a.m. and flew at a maximum altitude of 31 miles for 403 miles, possibly on an irregular trajectory, but this is still being analyzed. Japan lodged a formal protest against the launches through its embassy in Beijing.

Kim was visiting the Russian Far East when the launches occurred, having traveled there by an armored train. Shortly after the launches, he and Putin held a summit at the Vostochny Space Centre, which they toured before their talks. The Russian President later described the talks as exploring possibilities for military cooperation.

Putin also told Russian reporters during a press conference that the two leaders met at the Russian space center because Kim was interested in rocket engineering, and North Korea was looking to develop its space capabilities. North Korea has failed twice this year – in May and August – to launch a military reconnaissance satellite. A third attempt is planned for October. The United States has claimed the meeting between the two leaders was to discuss the purchase of North Korean weapons and munitions for Russia’s campaign in Ukraine, which both countries have denied.

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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