US Aircraft Carriers, Fighter Jets Launch War Games in near China Borders

US Aircraft Carriers, Fighter Jets Launch War Games in near China Borders
Sun Jun 19, 2016 19:53:49

Two US aircraft carriers along with their accompanying ships have been deployed in the Philippine Sea to conduct training drills near the disputed waters of the South China Sea, defense officials say.

According to a statement issued by the US Pacific Command on Sunday, USS John C. Stennis and USS Ronald Reagan, among the world's largest warships, sailed close together in the Philippine Sea, as part of operations which involved 12,000 sailors, 140 aircraft and six smaller warships.

The statement said the operations were carried out on the eastern side of the Philippines, in a body of water that is not adjacent to the South China Sea but in close proximity.

“We must take advantage of these opportunities to practice war-fighting techniques that are required to prevail in modern naval operations,” US Rear Admiral John Alexander said, adding that, "[This] has been a great opportunity for us to train on how we would operate multiple carrier strike groups in a contested environment.”

US Rear Admiral Marcus Hitchcock also confirmed the report, saying, “Today, we continue that long history as our two Carrier Strike Groups maneuver together in the Philippine Sea. No other Navy can concentrate this much combat power on one sea… It was truly impressive, and it is an important operational capability.”

The command further noted that the operations marked America’s continued presence in the Asia-Pacific as China expands its maritime strength and engages in massive island building activities in disputed waters.

China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. The waters are believed to sit atop vast reserves of oil and gas.

The dispute has at times drawn in trans-regional countries - particularly the US - which have more often than not sided with China’s rivals.

Recently, the US has increased its presence in the Asia-Pacific region through its so-called pivot strategy, which critics denounce as a provocative policy.

Beijing accuses Washington of meddling in regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea.

The US, in turn, accuses China of carrying out what it calls a land reclamation program in the South China Sea by building artificial islands in the disputed areas.

S/SH 11

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