US official: With eye on North Korea, China puts bombers on ‘high alert’

Washington (CNN) Chinese air force land-attack, cruise-missile-capable bombers were put “on high alert” on Wednesday as the US sees evidence that the Chinese military is preparing to respond to a potential situation in North Korea, a US defense official tells CNN.

The official said the US has also seen an extraordinary number of Chinese military aircraft being brought up to full readiness through intensified maintenance.

These recent steps by the Chinese are assessed as part of an effort to “reduce the time to react to a North Korea contingency,” the official said. Continue reading

‘Large’ Chinese Military Fleet Flies Near Japan Islands: Reports

Tokyo:  Japan scrambled jets after 11 Chinese military planes flew near southern Japanese islands during what Beijing said was a drill to improve its long-range combat abilities, reports said Saturday.

The planes — eight bombers, two intelligence gathering planes and one early-warning aircraft — flew near Miyako and Okinawa on Friday without violating Japan’s airspace, the Japanese defence ministry said in a statement released on Friday. Continue reading

H-6K bombers add to PLA’s strategic deterrent

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force deployed its H-6K bombers for deep-sea flight training last week. The H-6K has a combat radius of 3,500 kilometers, which currently meets the strategic requirement of “active defense.”

If China adopts US operational tactics to refuel in air twice during a mission, then the combat radius could be extended to 5,000 km, a bombing range that covers all of Asia and extends to Australia. Continue reading

Surveillance facility eyed for Pacific

BANGKOK – The Defense Ministry plans to build a communications intelligence facility on Iwoto Island in the Pacific to improve its ability to conduct surveillance on China and its growing military presence, a government source said Thursday.

The ministry’s budget request for next fiscal year includes part of the ¥12 billion needed to build the facility, which would come online in fiscal 2017, the source said. Iwoto, about 1,250 km south of Tokyo, used to be known as Iwojima and was the site of a terrible battle during World War II. Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera will visit the island early next month. Continue reading