TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Joint Staff of Japan's Ministry of Defense (MOD) on Monday (Nov. 6) announced that China's aircraft carrier the Shandong conducted 570 carrier-based sorties over the course of nine days.
In a press release, the Joint Staff said the Shandong conducted a nine-day training exercise from Oct. 28 to Nov. 5. Carrier-based aircraft took off and landed about 420 times, while helicopters took off and landed about 150 times, bringing total carrier-based sorites to 570.
On Oct. 26, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) said China's Shandong aircraft carrier battle group passed through waters south of Taiwan, transited through the Bashi Channel, and entered the Western Pacific. The strike group consisted of seven surface ships, including the Shandong, five frigates, one supply ship, and one suspected submarine, reported TVBS.
On Oct. 28, the MOD reported that the Shandong along with four other warships had entered the Pacific Ocean, reported The Japan News. According to the ministry, the Shandong was located 460 km south of Miyako Island at about 7 a.m. that day.
Locations of Shandong from Oct. 28 to Nov. 5. (Japan MOD image)
At noon on Oct. 31, the MND reported that 23 Chinese military aircraft detected in the air defense identification zone (ADIZ) were conducting joint combat readiness patrols with the Shandong aircraft carrier fleet. The MND said the carrier group was outside the southeast sector of the ADIZ.
While conducting carrier-based sorties, the MOD said it was headed southeast in the Pacific Ocean and was about 1,380 km southeast of Miyako Island on Nov. 2.
It then changed direction and sailed toward the South China Sea on Nov. 6. The fleet reportedly included missile destroyers, a frigate, and other ships.
Sighting of Shandong (top), Chinese frigate Huangshan. (MOD image)
Japan's defense ministry said its Maritime Self-Defense Force has dispatched naval vessels to monitor Shandong's movements and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets in response to Chinese fighter sorties.
The Shandong is China's second aircraft carrier. The MOD first announced spotting the Shandong in the Pacific in April, followed by a second detection in September, and this marks the third time the carrier has conducted missions in the Pacific.
Japan's defense ministry said the Shandong carrier task force is currently headed toward the South China Sea.