Defense

Massive Chinese Fleet Seen Barreling Towards US Naval Base

REUTERS/U.S. Navy

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Philip Lenczycki Investigative Reporter
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The largest Chinese aircraft carrier group reportedly ever assembled is conducting combat training near a U.S. naval base in Japan, according to multiple Chinese media sources on Tuesday.

China’s aircraft carrier “Liaoning,” as well as seven other vessels, are reportedly performing a naval expedition in close proximity to Nagasaki, Japan, and the U.S. Navy base at Sasebo, according to a Tuesday report from China’s Observer News translated by the Daily Caller News Foundation. The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier is also in the vicinity, according to the report. (RELATED: Chinese Military Stalks US Destroyer In Taiwan Strait)

The U.S. Naval Institute fleet tracker placed both the USS Abraham Lincoln, as well as the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier in the waters near Sasebo on May 2.

China’s naval expedition comes a week after its military reportedly shadowed a U.S. Navy destroyer conducting a freedom of navigation exercise in the Taiwan Strait last Tuesday. (RELATED: Taiwan’s Fighting Spirit: ‘Rational Assessment Does Not Favor Beijing’)

China’s military news outlet confirmed its nation’s aircraft carrier group was operating in the western Pacific Ocean in a Tuesday bulletin translated by the DCNF, but stated the “routine training operation” was “not directed against any party.”

Three F/A-18E Super Hornets fly in formation over the aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and their strike groups along with ships from the Republic of Korea Navy as they transit the Western Pacific, November 12, 2017. (Courtesy Aaron B. Hicks/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS)

Three F/A-18E Super Hornets fly in formation over the aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and their strike groups along with ships from the Republic of Korea Navy as they transit the Western Pacific, November 12, 2017. (Courtesy Aaron B. Hicks/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS)

The total tonnage for this iteration of the Liaoning’s aircraft carrier group is reportedly the largest formation ever assembled in the history of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, according to an opinion piece from China’s Tencent News translated by the DCNF.

The aircraft carrier group’s estimated collective “long-range precision strike capability” also reportedly surpassed that of any U.S. aircraft carrier formation, China’s NetEase News claimed, according to a translation.

In addition to the Liaoning aircraft carrier, the Chinese naval formation is reportedly composed of four destroyers, a guided missile frigate and a supply ship, according to the report from The Observer.

While no Chinese submarines were identified as serving within the Liaoning aircraft carrier formation, the opinion piece from Tencent News does “not rule out” that a People’s Liberation Army nuclear submarine is also operating alongside the strike group, citing the standard operating procedures of U.S. aircraft carrier groups which reportedly are always escorted by such vessels.

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Philip Lenczycki

Daily Caller News Foundation investigative reporter, political journalist, and China watcher. Twitter: @LenczyckiPhilip