The Chinese navy has launched a series of naval drills to shore up its naval capabilities in the Pacific, a key geostrategic region where Bejing’s goals frequently clash with those of the US.
The move comes as US Navy aircraft carriers suffered from COVID-19 outbreaks.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) deployed frigates Xuchang (536) and Yulin (Hull 569) to execute joint maritime exercises including formation maneuver, live-fire operation, and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operation.
Elsewhere in the Pacific, the US Navy reported new COVID-19 outbreaks among sailors stationed on board of the USS Ronald Reagan currently in Yokosuka, Japan and, to the Washington-based USS Carl Vinson. Also, the USS Nimitz, readying to deploy was revealed on Thursday to have “a very small number of breakouts,” according to Air Force General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“We have too many ships at sea, we have too many deployed capabilities. There’s 5,000 sailors on a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. To think that it will never happen again is not a good way to plan,” Hyten said.
“Our military remains ready and continues to operate around the globe,” he added
Defence Insights Analysis
Xuchang (536) is a multi-role Type 054A frigate (NATO Jiangkai II). The first Type 054A frigate entered service with the PLA Navy Surface Force in 2007.
The Type 054A is equipped with HQ-16 medium-range air defence missiles and anti-submarine missiles in a vertical launching system (VLS) system. The HQ-16 has offers operators a strike range of up to 50 km. The Type 054A’s VLS reportedly employs a hot launch method, with a shared common exhaust system sited between the two rows of rectangular launching tubes.
The Type 054A also has several stealth features, including sloped hull design, radar absorbent materials, and a clean profile.