China's Liaoning aircraft carrier conducts first live-fire drill

A live-fire drill using an aircraft carrier is seen carried out in the Bohai sea, China Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The exercise involved fighter jets and warships

China's first aircraft carrier has conducted live-fire drills for the first time, the defence ministry has said.

The exercise took place in recent days in the Bohai Sea, near the Korean peninsula, said the ministry.

Ten vessels and 10 aircraft engaged in air-to-air, air-to-sea and sea-to-air combat drills, state media reported.

The exercise comes as concerns grow over China's increasing military presence in the South China Sea.

Several countries have overlapping territorial claims with China in the region, but no country other than China claims the Bohai Sea.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Images shown on television showed missiles being fired

According to a statement released by the ministry, the exercise tested weapon performance and training levels.

State broadcaster CCTV showed images of fighter jets taking off from the Soviet-built Liaoning aircraft carrier, firing missiles and destroying a target at sea.

China announced the Liaoning was ready to engage in combat last month, marking a milestone for a navy that has invested heavily in its ability to project power around the region.

But China is still years away from perfecting carrier operations similar to those the United States has practiced for decades, according to Reuters.

The exercise comes the day after the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) released new photographs it said showed "significant" Chinese military defences on artificial islands China has built in the South China Sea.

China has repeatedly denied it is militarising its controversial developments in the region. On Thursday, the defence ministry said the deployment of military equipment was "legitimate and lawful".

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