- Tyrone Siu/Reuters
It’s that time of year again.
South Korea and the US are holding their annual 12-day exercise, the Ulchi Freedom Guardian. Composed of 25,000 American and 50,000 South Korean soldiers, according to the Republic of Korea and United States Combined Forces Command, this massive war game is being conducted purely as a defense-oriented exercise.
But one of South Korea’s neighbors may not necessarily see it that way. Not to be outdone, China has began what appears to be its own version of a war game, complete with its latest-generation aircraft and ships.
According to their Defense Ministry, China began conducting a simulated bomber attack on a naval task force late last week in the Sea of Japan.
In a statement from one Beijing’s flight commanders to the Associated Press, Zhang Wenzhong announced that his aircraft had identified and struck their respective targets in a “radically short time.” However, there appeared to be no reference to critical details of the exercise – including the specific purpose it was geared towards, who the prospective foes were, and why the Sea of Japan was chosen as its designated location.
- US Department of Defense
But there are a few guesses as to why China’s exercises were conducted in the Sea of Japan. For one, China has been leveraging their naval powers to make an impromptu move towards ruling not just the South China Sea, which blatantly defies The Hague’s verdict, but the naval zones around it as well. This includes the uninhabited islands that litter the Sea of Japan that are currently under Japanese control.
The vessels that are scheduled to take part in this exercise include more than two dozen of China’s latest-generation and stealth-equipped Type 054A class frigates and a Type 052C destroyer.
In addition to this drill, China and Russia have agreed to hold Joint Sea 2016, a joint naval drill, next month.
You can view a portion of the drill in the Sea of Japan below: