PLA carries out night drill near Yellow Sea based on scenario of an attack by the US

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 August, 2010, 12:00am

The People's Liberation Army has conducted a night drill near the Yellow Sea, based on the scenario of an attack by the United States, analysts said.

The army's North China Sea Fleet air arm began the drill on the Liaodong and Shandong peninsulas at 1.30am on Wednesday, with two batches of fighter jets taking off separately before meeting over the Bohai Sea to carry out different missions, the PLA Daily reported yesterday.

The report did not say how many and what types of fighter jets took part in the two-hour drill. 'The air division is equipped with some new generation fighter jets ... the exercise focused on midnight flying because air assaults in modern wars always take place at night,' the daily said. 'Data collected from night flying will help our army to cope with combined operations on modern battlefields.'

After the fighter jets met over the Bohai Sea they simulated attacks on the other side before becoming partners in a surveillance mission over the Yellow Sea.

Military experts said the exercise had clearly targeted the tactics used by the US military during the Gulf war and the Kosovo conflict.

Shanghai-based military expert Ni Lexiong said the night-flying drill had also been part of an escalating response to joint US-South Korea military drills in the Yellow Sea. 'Most of the PLA's past drills had taken place in the daytime, but experience tells us that the US prefers to attack its enemies at midnight, such as in the Gulf war and the Kosovo conflict,' Ni said. 'From this drill, the PLA wants to tell the world that it is also capable of dealing with night attacks.'

Xu Guangyu, a senior researcher at the Beijing-based China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, said all the PLA's drills were defensive operations. 'The night drill was conducted within our territorial sky over the Bohai Sea. The PLA has never planned to stage military exercises outside our borders,' Xu said. 'In fact, such military drills have taken place many times, but we revealed this drill to the outside world just because of its sensitive location near the Yellow Sea, and because China doesn't want our drills to cause any international misunderstanding.'

The PLA has conducted a string of military drills since late June, including a five-day drill, based on the scenario of defending Beijing, in Shandong and Henan last week, a live-ammunition joint military exercise in the East China Sea between June 30 and July 5, a supply drill in the Yellow Sea on July 18 and 19, and three joint fleet exercises in the disputed South China Sea.

With the army having to deal with increasingly heavy workloads in preparing for such massive drills since early this year, the Central Military Commission ordered party committees of the seven key military commands to monitor military cadres' political thinking to make sure they were loyal to the party, the PLA Daily reported.