The Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier, departs from its home port of Qingdao for the South China Sea on Nov. 26. (Photo/Xinhua)
An aerial combat exercise was recently held by the People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force over the East China Sea after Beijing announced its new air defense identification zone in the region over the weekend, according to the state-run China Central Television (CCTV).
Dozens of indigenous J-10 fighters were divided into red and blue teams to compete against each other to test pilots' aerial combat skills. Fighters from both teams were also supported by surface combat vessels of the PLA Navy, according to CCTV. The J-10 pilots not only had to simulate shooting each other down in the engagement, but also to sink ships from the other team.
One of the fighter pilots participating in the exercise told CCTV that he had spent more than 10 hours in the air flying his J-10 just like everybody else, adding the drill tested not only the Chinese fighters, but also the pilots and ground crews. Facing a potential aerial conflict with Japan over territorial issues in the East China Sea, the exercise allowed pilots to gain more real-world experience.
Meanwhile, China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, also began its first long voyage into the disputed waters of the South China Sea in the morning of Nov. 26, according to the official website of the PLA Navy. Under the escort of two Type 051C guided-missile destroyers and one Type 054A frigate, the Liaoning left for the South China Sea to conduct a training exercise. It will also provide a chance for the carrier to test its own ability when operating in different sea conditions.