22:12 GMT01 December 2020
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    A little more than a year after the USS Theodore Roosevelt was stationed in the Persian Gulf for the campaign against Daesh, F/A-18 Super Hornets have taken off from the same carrier in the South China Sea following reports that China installed communications jammers in the Spratly Islands.

    The USS Roosevelt made its way through the South China Sea en route to a port call in the Philippines Tuesday, the Diplomat reported. While the US military calls the patrol through the disputed waterway "routine," Super Hornets took off from the carrier at a dizzying clip of one jet per minute over a 20 minute period, according to a Reuters journalist on board the 30-year-old Nimitz-class ship.

    Traveling with destroyers and guided missile cruisers, the USS Roosevelt arrived in Manila on Wednesday, the US Navy's 7th Fleet announced.

    ​The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group "returned to the 7th Fleet area of operations after successfully completing more than four months in the Arabian Gulf and US 5th Fleet area of operations supporting maritime security, theater security cooperation, and Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom's Sentinel," the Navy said.

    ​Last February, the carrier and its air wing started conducting sorties from the Persian Gulf, Sputnik News reported.

    The US show of force in the South China Sea follows a recent display in which 40 ships from the People's Liberation Army Navy sailed through the Taiwan Strait.

    It's possible the US display was meant to signal that Chinese electronic warfare assets won't interrupt naval aviation operations in the South China Sea, where US Admiral Harry Harris explained in February that China is "attempting to assert de facto sovereignty over disputed maritime futures."

    Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that military jammers capable of interfering with radar and communications networks had been positioned at militarized bases in the Spratly Islands. The ongoing Spratly Island dispute consists of competing territorial claims made by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

    This image provided by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe shows a satellite image of Fiery Cross Reef in Spratly island chain in the South China Sea, annotated by the source to show areas where China has conducted construction work above ground during 2017
    © AP Photo / CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

    Speaking to Reuters, though, the commander of the Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group explained that military relations with the PLA Navy have been managed with the highest level of professionalism.

    "We have seen Chinese ships around us. They are one of the navies that operate in the South China Sea but I would tell you that we have seen nothing but professional work out of the ships we have encountered," US Navy Rear Admiral Steve Koehler said Tuesday.


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    f/a-18, aircraft carrier, US Navy, South China Sea
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