China's air force holds large-scale drill amid tensions with Japan, South China Sea claimants

China says its air force has staged one of its largest-ever drills amid heightened tensions with Japan and its southern neighbors over territorial claims.

State media said Friday that the air combat exercises involving more than 100 pilots were held over 11 days last month in the vast northwestern region of Xinjiang. Aircraft taking part included China's most modern jet fighters, the J-10 and J-11, according to the website of the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily.

While the exercises were being held, China's navy for the first time launched and recovered aircraft from the country's first aircraft carrier. The exercises also came amid stepped-up sea patrols around East China Sea islands claimed by China but controlled by Japan, as well as renewed feuding between China and other claimants in the South China Sea.