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Why PLA organizes free air-combat confrontation drill

(Source: China Military Online)   2014-09-15

  BEIJING, September 15 (ChinaMil) -- The PLA Daily reported that the naval and air forces of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will conduct its first free air-combat confrontation drill. According to the drill plan, an aviation detachment equipped with several fighters under the East China Sea Fleet of the Navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLAN) and a troop unit under the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) will join the confrontation drill. It is the first of its kind in the history of the PLAN and the PLAAF.

  The free air-combat confrontation drill will be conducted on the one-to-one and two-to-two basis respectively among the two sides' third-generation fighters. The two sides will send the same types of fighters in this drill for research and validation proposes. The drill signals that the PLA is deepening its combat training to joint training and this will exert positive influence on the combat mission and joint training of the PLA.

  All kinds of tasks carried out by the PLA in recent years showed that one major way to enhance the air and sea combat capability and to meet the needs of current tasks is to organize joint training among main combat arms of the PLAN and the PLAAF.

  For example, the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) announced by China's Ministry of National Defense on November 23, 2013 is a typical sea-air joint mission area. Effective control of the ADIZ can only be achieved when there is close cooperation between the PLAN and PLAAF.

  In April 2014, the PLAN and PLAAF had their first joint search in the same mission area in the search of Malaysia Airlines MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. In this mission, direct communication links have been established between the naval and air forces. Then the aircraft of the PLAAF entered the mission sea and conducted the joint search with the PLAN’s “Jinggangshan” taskforce. This joint search model has greatly improves the efficiency of the task.

  In terms of combat capability, the integration and cooperation between the PLAN and the PLAAF will be strengthened if such confrontation drill can be normalized.

  Both the naval aviation force and the air troops are capital arms. The naval aviation force is responsible for air defense support for fleets, patrol and anti-submarine, air patrol and defense of the territorial waters, continental coastline air defense, anti-ship attacks and other combat missions.

  The air troops are responsible for homeland air defense, combat support for the army and the navy, air strikes behind enemy lines, air transport and aerial reconnaissance and other missions.

  There are connections and differences between the two arms in terms of tasks and the combat use. The current and potential security threats determine that the intersection of the two arms will become increasingly large.

  Therefore, a joint combat drill with a certain level of depth will greatly promote mutual understanding and is also conducive to joint operations in the future.

  This type of drill has considerable significance on deepening the joint training.

  In recent years, an important part of the PLA's combat training is the deepening of joint training. The role of the PLAAF can be found in recent exercises organized by the Army.

  The 17 exercises of the PLA in 2013 were all joint drills among multiple arms, among which, there has been 11 times of joint drills among multiple arms in the same theater, 3 times of cross-theater joint drills among multiple arms and 3 times of joint exercise among the North China Sea Fleet, the East China Sea Fleet and the South China Sea Fleet.

  The theater joint training of the PLA started in the Jinan Theater in 2009. A series of joint drills among multiple arms including "Vanguard-2009A" joint air-ground combat exercise of basic combat units, "Advance Guard-2010" joint theater air defense operation, "Joint-2011" theater sea direction defensive combat, "Joint-2012" theater joint operation and "Joint-2013" night beach landing operation were conducted respectively.

  But this air-combat confrontation drill has greater significance. Such training will undoubtedly break the limitations of internal communications within the naval aviation force and the air troops. Meanwhile, the drill is crucial for the exploration of an appropriate method of joint naval-air training.

  The PLAN's troops to participate in the drill are from the "Naval Air Eagle Regiment". The PLAAF’s troops to participate in the drill are from a regiment which was the first regiment equipped with the third-generation fighters. The two troops are all “Blade Troops” with rich combat experience.

  The confrontational encounter between the two will make this drill more exciting. But more importantly, the drill will bring joint training of the PLA a brand new start.

Editor:Yao Jianing
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