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RAAF spots Chinese patrol ship watching Talisman Sabre

written by Robert Dougherty | July 25, 2023

A Chinese patrol ship observes Exercise Talisman Sabre. (Image: Defence)

An unofficial attendee to Australia’s largest bilateral military exercise with the US has been spotted by a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

Australian Defence Force personnel have begun monitoring the Chinese intelligence ship pictured as it observes Exercise Talisman Sabre, which is in full swing after its official launch on 21 July with an opening ceremony onboard HMAS Canberra.

Over the next two weeks, 13 nations will participate in high-end multi-domain warfighting across sea, land, air, cyber, and space.

“This year, more than 30,000 personnel from 13 participating nations and four observer nations will take part in Exercise Talisman Sabre,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles said.

“The scale and design of the exercise will provide more depth, complexity, and challenge for our Defence forces as we work together to build our defence cooperation.”


The People’s Liberation Army Navy Dongdiao Class Auxiliary Intelligence Ship is a frequent visitor to Australia’s northern coastline.

Chinese intelligence ships have previously travelled down the west coast of Australia around Exmouth, before changing course to track east along the north-west coast.

In a statement, an ADF spokesperson said, “Australia respects the right of all states under international law to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace, just as we expect others to respect our right to do the same.

“The presence of this vessel will not detract from Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023.”

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