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Chinese Bombers Simulated an Attack on a US Navy Aircraft Carrier in the South China Sea

by SOFREP News Feb 1, 2021
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The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG) steams in formation while transiting the Pacific U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony River
The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG) steams in formation while transiting the Pacific U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony River

Chinese bombers recently simulated an attack on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in the South China Sea, the U.S. military said on Friday, confirming earlier reporting from the Financial Times.

As the Navy’s Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group sailed into the South China Sea this past Saturday, the Chinese military sent eight H-6K bombers, four J-16 fighter jets, and one Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft flying past Taiwan and into the contested waterway.

Tracking data indicates that the U.S. carrier strike group entered the South China Sea by way of the Bashi Channel as the Chinese fighters flew through Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.

The next day, an unidentified mainland military analyst told China’s state-affiliated Global Times that the Chinese move may have been a training exercise intended to “boost the PLA’s combat capability against U.S. aircraft carriers,” as the bombers could practice launching a saturation attack against the U.S. ships.

Another analyst told the paper that the flights were “likely routine operations” that had nothing to do with the U.S. vessels nearby.

A Chinese Air Force H-6K bomber
A Chinese Air Force H-6K bomber. (Xinhua/Guo Wei via Getty Images)

The Financial Times, citing persons familiar with the U.S. and allied intelligence, reported Friday that the Chinese bombers and fighters simulated an attack on the Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group. The Chinese bomber pilots were also reportedly overheard confirming naval strike orders and simulating the firing of anti-ship missiles.

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) spokesperson Capt. Mike Kafka told Insider in an emailed statement that, “the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group closely monitored all People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Air Force (PLAAF) activity, and at no time did they pose a threat to U.S. Navy ships, aircraft, or Sailors.”

A defense official said that the Chinese aircraft did not come within 250 miles of the U.S. Navy vessels, putting them outside the estimated range of the YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missiles carried by the H-6K. There was a simulated attack run though, the official said.

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