PLA Air Force drill tests far-offshore combat capabilities
The PLA Air Force said on Sunday it had conducted a drill involving long-range operations over the Western Pacific, past the Miyako Strait, to test far-offshore combat and assault capabilities.
Shen Jinke, a spokesman for the air force, said regular drills in the Western Pacific and patrols over the East China Sea air defense identification zone were aimed at protecting China’s sovereignty and national security.
According to a statement on the Ministry of National Defense’s website, more than 40 aircraft including H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters and aerial tankers of the People’s Liberation Army completed exercises such as assaults on sea-surface targets and in-air refueling. The fleet also conducted a routine patrol in the East China Sea air defense identification zone, established in November 2013.
The Miyako Strait is a body of water between Japan’s Miyako and Okinawa islands.
Zhao Xiaozhuo, a researcher at the Center on China-US Defense Relations at the PLA Academy of Military Science, said long-range drills in the Western Pacific are a standard practice to develop the air force’s equipment.
“It’s a normal defense exercise that will be conducted more and more, with our military becoming better equipped. It’s a natural progression that we will be able to fly further and conduct drills on a wider range,” he said. “The awakening of China’s maritime rights consciousness has encouraged the country to expand its activities from coastal areas to faroffshore regions.”
The PLA Air Force will continue to patrol the East China Sea air defense identification zone to uphold the legitimate rights and interests of China, and will keep conduct various training to improve its combat capacity, Shen added.
40 aircraft were involved in the PLA Air Force’s drill over the Pacific
H-6K bombers and Su-30 fighters were among the 40 aircraft involved in the PLA Air Force’s drill over the Western Pacific on Sunday. The drill was to test the military’s far-offshore combat and assault capabilities.