PLA holds mock air defense battles amid frequent US aerial reconnaissance
Published: Jul 09, 2020 06:42 PM

A missile launching vehicle attached to an air-defense battalion of a combined arms brigade under the PLA 73rd Group Army launches a surface-to-air missile at a simulated aerial target during a whole-process live-fire test on June 21, 2020. ( by Wang Lei)

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is holding mock air defense battles in the coastal region of South China's Guangdong Province, a location that has seen frequent aerial close-in reconnaissance operations by US military aircraft in the past few days.

An air defense brigade under the PLA 74th Group Army is conducting this confrontational drill along the coastline of western Guangdong set in a real-combat scenario, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Wednesday evening. 

Anti-aircraft guns, road-mobile anti-aircraft missiles and radar installations were deployed in the drills, according to the report.

The report did not disclose when the exercises started and when they are scheduled to conclude.

During a mock battle, four high-speed target drones were released and launched an attack on a battle position with the support of simulated jamming aircraft. Anti-aircraft artillery units immediately formed a network with their fire-control radars, narrowed down the scope of early warning and identified hostile targets, before unleashing a barrage of bullets on them.

The drills took place at a time when the US continuously sent reconnaissance aircraft to this area for close-in reconnaissance operations from Monday to Wednesday, which military experts said could be US attempts to gain knowledge of technical parameters, locations and movements of the Chinese military's weapons and equipment over the South China Sea and Taiwan Island.

PLA's drills are routinely scheduled and not targeted at any specific country, but US' aerial close-in reconnaissance operations pose threats to China's national security, so the drills also show that the PLA is always prepared to defend against any hostile aggression, a Chinese military expert told the Global Times on Thursday under condition of anonymity.

The air defense drills can be seen as a reminder to the US that their provocative actions should not go any farther, the expert said, noting that the PLA can send warplanes to disrupt US aircraft and temporarily suspend the military activities they are conducting reconnaissance on as they approach.

The air defense brigade in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province is a force with rich experience. Two years ago, it was part of a massive joint air defense drill, which featured the PLA Army, Navy, Air Force, and Rocket Force in the Bohai Bay, CCTV reported.

It was taught a lesson by the opposing team's aviation force through intensive electromagnetic interference, which significantly impacted communications and shortened the brigade's early warning radar effectiveness.

Since this drill loss, the brigade has developed a highly integrated information-fire system and greatly expanded its missile units' early warning capability with information-oriented joint operation as core concepts, the report said.

Chen Guanglin, the brigade's chief of staff, said on CCTV that in order to further boost air defense combat efficiency, the troops need to rely more on information command networks in an integrated joint operation, and create innovative ways to use new equipment.