The U.S. Navy deployed the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) this week as China continues to retaliate for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
USS America deployed from nearby Sasebo, Japan, adding to the U.S. military presence in the western Pacific, USNI News reported Thursday. The U.S. has been bolstering its forces in the Indo-Pacific region surrounding increased tensions with China over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this week.
USS America is an amphibious assault ship capable of launching helicopters and short-take-off fighter jets like the F-35B Lightning. Amphibious assault ships like the USS America act as miniature aircraft carriers.
With the deployment from Sasebo, USS America adds its airpower to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and fellow amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7).
USS Ronald Reagan was most recently reported near the Philippines. On Thursday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the Reagan aircraft carrier and its strike group “will remain on station in the general area to monitor the situation” around Taiwan.
USNI News reported USS Tripoli is carrying a complement of 20 F-35Bs. The ship is currently active around the Japanese island of Okinawa.
While Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, China considers the island a part of its territory and condemned Pelosi’s visit as a violation of Chinese sovereignty. The Chinese military has increased its presence in the Taiwan Strait as a direct reaction to Pelosi’s visit.
On Thursday, Chinese missile forces launched at least 11 ballistic missiles in the waters around Taiwan. Japanese officials reported five Chinese ballistic missiles also fell within Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
China also deployed 13 warships and 68 of its military aircraft to the Taiwan Strait on Friday. The deployment of military aircraft represents the largest Chinese aerial incursion in the Taiwan Strait in a single day. 49 of those 68 aircraft crossed the median line of the strait, the approximate halfway point dividing the strait. Among the 49 aircraft that crossed the Taiwan Strait median line were 47 fighter jets, an electronic warfare aircraft and an anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
On Thursday, Kirby said the U.S. military is planning air and naval transits through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks in order to assert U.S. freedom of navigation through international waters and airspace. Kirby said U.S. forces will “take further steps to demonstrate our commitment to the security of our allies in the region, and that includes Japan.”