China’s navy has carried out a “live fire drill” in the Indian Ocean to improve fleet performance, state media reported on Friday, in what is the latest such naval exercise in maritime regions near India this year. The drill targeted targeted “enemy” surface ships, the media report added. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has carried out number of well-publicised drills in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and close to Sino-India border since the ongoing military standoff between the border troops of the two countries broke out in June at Donglang near the Sikkim boundary.
But the Indian Ocean drill is the first naval drill to be publicised by China in this period and could be interpreted as another strong message to India – aggressive military posturing in a region where the Indian navy is influential. Two of PLA Navy’s (PLAN) front-running battle ships, destroyer Changchun and guided-missile frigate Jingzhou took part in the exercise, which lasted for several days. The exact location and the time of the exercise weren’t revealed in the brief report on the exercise released by official news agency, CCTV on Friday evening.
Chinese naval formation consisting of the destroyer Changchun, guided-missile frigate Jingzhou and supply vessel Chaohu conducted a live-fire drill in the waters of the western Indian Ocean. The fleet carried out strikes against ‘enemy’ surface ships and completed transverse replenishment of fuel and drinking water during an exercise that lasted for several days. The drill is aimed at improving the ships’ performance under real combat circumstances. Earlier this year, a Chinese naval fleet had conducted a similar live-fire drill in the east Indian Ocean region to test combat capacity. In that exercise carried out in February, according to state media reports, missile destroyer Haikou had placed floating targets as enemy ships along its way, and attacked the “red force. The Chinese exercise follows the recent Malabar Naval exercises held in the Indian Ocean by the navies of India, the US and Japan.
As part of China’s increasing naval reach, it’s first homegrown aircraft carrier is “very likely to start its first sea trials in autumn, as its manufacturer announced that it will present key achievements as a tribute to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC),” state media reported earlier this week. The new carrier, the first domestically-built one, came after the Liaoning, a refitted former Soviet Union-made carrier that was put into commission in the Navy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in 2012.