China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) conducted a first-of-its-kind live-fire air attack drill on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, state media reported on Thursday.
The PLAAF’s J-10 fighters conducted ground attack training in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), testing its capabilities at the 3,500-metre-high plateau amid freezing temperatures, the PLA Daily reported.
While the reports did not give the reason for the exercises, Indian analysts have pointed out that the Chengdu military region and the PLAAF in Tibet are primarily tasked with defending the disputed border with India.
The drills would help deal with the particular obstacles posed by the plateau such as low oxygen density, which makes it harder to ignite aircraft engines, and shorter runways.
“These reports indicate that China is [strengthening] its conventional deterrents,” said Srikanth Kondapalli, an expert on the Chinese military at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
“They basically want to convey to India or other neighbouring countries that they are preparing in high altitude [conditions].”
Full article: China takes military preparedness to a new high (The Hindu)