A naval aviation division of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command wrapped up an aerial early warning and reconnaissance training exercise recently, which experts said will boost China's defense capability in the South China Sea as US warships and aircraft have trespassed frequently into Chinese territorial waters and airspace.
The long-duration aerial early warning and reconnaissance training concluded in November, in which participating troops intercepted more than 10 kinds of simulated hostile anti-air radar signals and tested multiple tactics, the PLA Daily reported on Sunday.
Compared with the same training exercise that took place in 2018, this year's training significantly extended the flight duration, set more intensive hostile activities and tactical backgrounds and focused more on nighttime training, the PLA Daily quoted Yan Liang, chief of staff of a regiment under the participating naval aviation division, as saying.
Unlike previous drills, the troops did not receive any training plan in advance, and entered the missions as if they were real, according to the report.
During the training, an aircraft group received urgent orders and shifted from training to a real combat state, as they were assigned an unexpected mission to track down and identify a group of maritime targets, the report said.
The Southern Theater Command Navy operates mainly in the South China Sea.
Training exercise like this will allow troops to become familiar with intense missions with early warning and reconnaissance aircraft and gain experience so they can commence missions in complicated, real situations, a military expert who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The US Navy has been frequently tasking warships into Chinese territorial waters in the South China Sea, and its Air Force has also been flying bombers, reconnaissance planes, drones and patrol aircraft in this area, but not publicizing it, US military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported on Wednesday.
Chinese naval early warning and reconnaissance aircraft will not only spot US vessels and aircraft and inform Chinese warships and fighter jets to expel them, but also record US electromagnetic signals, a move that will give the Chinese military an edge so it can launch targeted jamming or attacks if necessary, the expert said.
China is mass-producing special mission aircraft including anti-submarine aircraft, early warning aircraft, surveillance aircraft and electronic warfare aircraft, China Central Television reported last week.