De­fense ex­er­cise

PLA Air Force drill tests far-off­shore com­bat ca­pa­bil­i­ties

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By SUN XIAOCHEN and WANG QINGYUN Con­tact the writ­ers at sunx­i­aochen@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

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

SHAO JING / XIN­HUA

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.

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