The U.S. Navy sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the South China Sea Friday to conduct maritime air defense operations amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing.
The group led by the USS Ronald Reagan conducted flight operations with fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and high-end maritime stability operations and exercises, according to a statement.
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“Integration with our joint partners is essential to ensuring joint force responsiveness and lethality, and maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Joshua Fagan, an air operations officer aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, said in the statement.
Tensions between the U.S. and China are escalating. The Trump administration last month rejected China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, reversing a previous policy of not taking sides in such disputes.
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