Shandong sea trials
China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier has gone out to sea for further sea trials. On Monday May 25 the Shandong left its berth at the shipyard in the northern Chinese city of Dalian where it was built.
It has not been disclosed where the trials are being carried out, although China’s maritime authorities have gazetted parts of the northern Yellow Sea for military activities for eight days beginning on the same day the carrier left port.
The Shandong’s was launched in April 2017 and officially commissioned into China’s PLA-N in late 2019, and its design is based on that of the Liaoning which was built from the hulk of the unfinished Soviet-era carrier, Varyag.
Singapore revealed to be operator of Elbit recon pods
DefenseNews has revealed that Singapore is a customer for Elbit’s Condor 2 Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) Long Range Oblique Photography (LOROP) pod after Lockheed-Martin F-16D fighters belonging to Singapore were sighted flying over the city-state recently carrying the pod.
It is believed the pods – which have long focal length lenses that can take both regular and infra-red photos from up to 80km away at up to 50,000 feet – have been in service for a number of years, replacing the eight Northrop RF-5S Tigereye reconnaissance aircraft retired by the RSAF in 2005. Singapore’s Ministry of Defence declined to comment on the report.
India-China face off
The high altitude stand-off between Chinese and Indian forces is continuing at the increasingly tense disputed border between the world’s two most populous countries.
A photo on social media purportedly showing four captured Indian soldiers being searched by troops of China’s PLA was swiftly leaked online following the circulation of a video reportedly showing a PLA soldier in Indian custody as both sides threw stones at each other.
India has accused China of upsetting the status-quo at their disputed border near the Galwan Valley by moving PLA troops across the line of control and setting up outposts and digging trenches, with the BBC reporting that stand-offs between both forces were taking place in at least three locations.
China has in turn accused India of starting off the current tensions when it built a road hundreds of kilometres long connecting the area with an airbase it reactivated in 2008.
US Navy’s South China Sea FONOPs continue
The US Navy has continued to conduct Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOP) in the disputed South China Sea, when the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mustin transited through the Paracel Islands on May 28.
A USN statement to US Naval Institute said the latest FONOP was a challenge to the “restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam and also by challenging China’s claim to straight baselines enclosing the Paracel Islands.”
China unsurprisingly saw it a little differently, claiming the vessel “trespassed into Chinese territorial waters off the Xisha Islands”, using the Chinese name for the Paracel group of islands. It added that air and maritime forces scrambled from its Southern Theatre Command to monitor the destroyer’s transit and warned it to leave.