- Russia recently conducted a major military exercise in the Pacific.
- Its defense ministry said this week that their forces practiced destroying an enemy carrier group.
- Russian naval and air assets conducted a simulated conventional missile strike on the mock enemy.
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The Russian military has been training to destroy a carrier strike group in the Pacific, the Russian Ministry of Defense said this week, shedding light on recent drills.
Roughly two dozen Russian combat ships, submarines and support vessels, together with as many aviation assets, recently conducted a major exercise in which Russian forces conducted a simulated attack on an enemy carrier strike group.
Russian forces divided into two teams about 300 miles apart, with one playing the role of the enemy. The defense ministry did not identify any specific adversary.
The opposing military force, consisting of the cruiser Varyag, destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov, and two smaller corvettes, carried out a simulated conventional missile strike on the mock enemy. The attack also involved air assets.
Russia said its forces “worked out the tasks of detecting, countering and delivering missile strikes against an aircraft carrier strike group of a mock enemy.”
Russia said that the exercise took place around 2,500 miles southeast of the Kuril islands. Media reports on the exercises put the drills within several hundred miles of Hawaii, though US Indo-Pacific Command told The Drive that some Russian ships came a lot closer, in some cases within 20 to 30 nautical miles.
The Russian Ministry of Defense statement on the exercise does not say when it occurred, but, as Military.com noticed, a Russian state media article announced on June 13 that a force of the same size and involving the same ships started training in the Pacific.
On June 17, just a few days after the Russian drills in the Pacific began, the US Navy announced that Carrier Strike Group One led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was active in the Hawaiian Islands Operating Area.
US defense officials recently told CBS News that while the Vinson’s activities were planned, they were moved closer to Hawaii in response to the Russian exercises. The US also scrambled fighter jets in response to Russian bombers during this time, according to ABC News.
Insider contacted Third Fleet for comment on the Vinson’s activities but has not yet received a response.
Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, the commander of US Third Fleet, said in a statement last week that “operating in Hawaii provides unique opportunities for Vinson to train jointly while positioned to respond if called.”
The admiral added that “they train to a variety of missions, from long range strikes to anti-submarine warfare, and can move anywhere on the globe on short notice.”
US carrier strike groups, which consist of not just a carrier and its air wing but also other surface combatants, bring tremendous firepower to a fight and have been critical components of America’s power projection capabilities for decades, at times making them a focus for US rivals.
The recent Russian military exercises follow an episode in late January in which a large force of Chinese military aircraft, including fighters and bombers, conducted a simulated missile attack on an American carrier strike group in the South China Sea.
Though the Chinese aircraft remained more than 250 nautical miles from the carrier group and “at no time” posed a threat to it, INDOPACOM characterized China’s actions as “the latest in a string of aggressive and destabilizing actions.”
The command said China’s “actions reflect a continued [People’s Liberation Army] attempt to use its military as a tool to intimidate or coerce those operating in international waters and airspace.”