China tests its strategic air power capability: Implications for India

Sept. 25 (China Military News cited from Sri Lanka Guardian and written by B.Raman) — The Chinese Air Force has tested its strategic air power capability for air strikes and bombing against long-distance targets in the counter-terrorism exercise under the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) being held at Matybulak in Kazakhstan between September 9 and 25,2010. About 5,000 troops from China, Kazakhstan,Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan are taking part in the exercise. Uzbekistan is not participating.

The contingent of about 1000 Chinese troops participating in the exercise is commanded by Gen.Ma Xiaotian, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Since its birth, the SCO had held seven joint counter-terrorism exercises code-named “Peace Mission”. In the previous exercises, the focus was on the use of ground troops, tanks, missiles and helicopters in counter-terrorism operations. In Peace Mission 2009 held last year, the theme was counter-terrorism operations to rescue hostages taken by an armed terrorist group in an urban setting which threatened to blow up a chemical plant. The terrorists were projected last year as armed with man-portable surface-to-air missiles and having an unspecified capability for an attack mounted from air. For the first time since these exercises started. PLA and Russian forces were required last year to integrate air and air defense operations, including the use of their own surface-to-air missiles.

Two J-10 Fighters in Peace Mission 2010 exercise

The theme of the Peace Mission 2010 exercise currently being held is not known, but it is noticed that the Chinese have tested during the exercise their capability for mounting long-distance air operations involving the use of bombers and fighter planes. A Xinhua report of September 21 on this part of the exercise stated as follows: “Six warplanes took off from within China and launched long-distance “sudden attacks” in neighboring Kazakhstan in the on-going anti-terror drill of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, said a Chinese General. The simulated cross-border strikes were the first by the Chinese Air Force, according to Major General Meng Guoping, deputy commander of the Chinese military participating in the drill. The six warplanes — four H-6H bombers and two J-10 fighter jets — were split into two missions. They were supported by an air early warning aircraft and were refueled by a flying tanker before they crossed the border into Kazakhstan, said the General. Although the drill venue is within the range of both warplanes, they were refueled in the air to ensure a complete success of their missions, said General Meng. Meng said by carrying out such a move in the war games, the Chinese Air Force is trying to build an integrated air battle group encompassing early warning, command, long-distance bombing, escort and air refueling. “

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