China’s massive Pacific air force drill just the start of even bigger shows of might against US, experts predict

A state media photo shows a Chinese Su-30 fighter (right) flying with a H-6K bomber as they take part in a drill near the East China Sea on Sunday. Photo: Xinhua


Long-range drills and patrols the Chinese military held in the Western Pacific on Sunday demonstrated the nation’s ability to counter US interference in the South China Sea issues, Chinese military experts have said.

The unprecedented exercise involved more than 40 aircraft from different aviation teams, indicating the air force would join with the navy, rocket forces or other military arms to conduct additional large joint operational exercises in the region in the future, they added.

Air force spokesman Shen Jinke said H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters and air tankers conducted reconnaissance and early warning drills, simulated attacks on sea targets, and carried out in-flight refuelling.

Aircraft had “systematically” flown over Japan’s Miyako Strait, with bombers and fighters carrying out “routine” patrols in the air defence identification zone (ADIZ), which Beijing established in the East China Sea in late 2013.

Shen said “regular long-range drills in the Western Pacific and patrols over the East China Sea ADIZ were for the air force to safeguard China’s sovereignty, national security and peaceful development”.

The drill near Okinawa caused Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force to scramble fighter jets after discovering eight Chinese planes flying over the strait.

Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert, said the drills targeted not only Japan but also “the US-Japan military alliance”.

“The strongest opponent of the air force of the People’s Liberation Army is not Japan, but the US-Japan military alliance,” Song said, adding that Washington was Beijing’s ultimate rival.

The drill “aims to point to the US’ naval base in Guam, which is the bridgehead for Washington to contain China in the region”.

Full article: China’s massive Pacific air force drill just the start of even bigger shows of might against US, experts predict (South China Morning Post)

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