April 7 (UPI) -- The USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group completed exercises in the South China Sea with Malaysia's air force, the U.S. Navy said on Wednesday.
The aircraft carrier and Carrier Wing 11, escorted by the guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and destroyers USS Russell and USS John Finn, conducted the bilateral exercise with the Royal Malaysian Air Force on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Su-30MKM [Russian-made fighter planes] and F/A-18D aircraft represent the RMAF, while USN is represented by F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft from the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group," a statement on the website of the RMAF, known as the Tudm Rasmi, said on Wednesday.
The strike group and RMAF planes conducted Dissimilar Air Combat Training exercises, in which superior planes maneuver against less nimble planes, joint-air operations and unit integration, the U.S. Navy said.
"We are thankful for the opportunity to train alongside the Royal Malaysian Air Force," Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander of Carrier Strike Group Nine, said in the Navy release.
"While we would have loved to meet face to face, I am excited that we can meet in the air to help deepen security cooperation between our two nations," Verissimo said.
The United States' military alliance with Australia and New Zealand makes Malaysia, a member of the Five Power Defense Arrangements treaty with Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Britain, a U.S. military ally. Malaysia has also been involved in territorial disputes with China.
The bilateral exercises in the South China Sea concluded as the destroyer USS John S. McCain sailed through the nearby Taiwan Strait, drawing the criticism of China's military.