China appears to have deployed military ships to monitor US and UK aircraft carrier formations in the South China Sea ahead of an intensive exercise involving six countries, satellite imagery analysis revealed on Tuesday.
An image shared by Ho Chi Minh-based maritime observer Duan Dang showed elements of the US Navy Carrier Strike Group Carl Vinson and the Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group off the west coast of the Philippines on October 5.
British flagship HMS queen elizabeth was west of the Luzon Strait, which separates Taiwan and the Philippines, while the USS Carl Vinson operated north of the disputed Scarborough Bank, which is claimed by Manila but administered by Beijing, said Duan, author of the South China Sea Brief bulletin.
“Unidentified” warships were remotely monitoring the two groups of aircraft carriers, his satellite photo showed. The ships probably belong to the South Sea Fleet of the People’s Liberation Army, which operates in the South China Sea.
The Vietnamese observer noted upcoming maritime exercises in the next two weeks. The UK Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that HMS queen elizabeth was to train with friendly ships and planes from the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. PLA warships are expected to monitor the exercises throughout.
Before arriving in the South China Sea on Monday, U.S. and allied naval groups completed two days of interoperability exercises in the Western Pacific, the seas east of Taiwan and southwest of Okinawa in Japan. Beijing seemed to perceive the exercises as a challenge; he responded by flying dozens of military planes and nuclear-capable bombers near southwestern Taiwan.
Images shared by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) showed the addition of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group among ships from six countries participating in the weekend’s exercises, including the United States, Japan, Canada. , New Zealand and the Netherlands. It was the last action involving HNLMS Evertsen of the Royal Netherlands Navy, returning to home port.
On Tuesday, the JMSDF revealed a particular interoperability milestone reached on Sunday when it shared footage of US Marine Corps F-35B stealth fighters landing and taking off from the Japanese JS helicopter carrier. Izumo—The first fixed-wing aircraft to operate on a Japanese aircraft carrier since World War II.
As U.S. and British carrier groups sailed the South China Sea via waters south of Taiwan on Monday, Chinese military flights through the Bashi Canal continued in alarmingly high numbers, with 56 planes crossing the identification area of midnight Taiwan air defense.
In his newsletter released Tuesday, Duan said, “In my opinion, the influx of military jets may indicate how angered Beijing has been at the recent gathering of American and British strike groups near Taiwan.
Duan said a similar response could be expected whenever a U.S. aircraft carrier transits the Bashi Channel, which sits at the intersection between the Western Pacific, the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea.