By Li Qiang and Liu Yang
A division of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force dispatched 12 H-6K bombers to carry out actual combat military training recently, according to a message released by the Chinese Air Force on Mar. 27.
Some analysts believe that the deployment of 12 large bombers at the same time is relatively rare even at the international level. Such a force can devastate any large-scale ground air defense system by launching long-range cruise missiles. The Chinese PLA Air Force undoubtedly aims to send a strong signal to the outside world by the news releases.
Unusual training of 12 H-6K bombers at the same time
Twelve is a very big number for bombers. In recent years, China’s naval and air force's troops have seldom dispatched such a large cluster of planes flying through the first island chain. Even the US and Russia rarely send 12 large bombers to participate in drills or operations. A Chinese military expert who asked not to be named said on Mar. 27 that according to the current analysis of the performance of the H-6K bomber, its maximum load is about 15 tons. If these 12 bombers are fully loaded, they can theoretically dump 180 tons of ammunition in one operation. They can also carry 72 "CJ" cruise missiles for precision strikes.
Such combat intensity can allocate one or two missiles for each large and mid-sized air defense system of Taiwan. If a precision guided missile is launched outside a large defense area, it can even "hit the desk through the window."
However, some analysts pointed out that the information release did not describe the specific time and place as was done in the releases for previous major actions, so the training might have taken place on a different date.
Moreover, the 12 H-6K bombers were not necessarily dispatched at the same time. They might have been dispatched in different groups continuously within a day. However, the effect achieved by the two methods is similar.
Show China's will to the world
Some experts believe that while the previous training through the island chain included early-warning aircraft, air tankers, fighter jets, and electronic reconnaissance aircraft, this flight training activity did not appear to involve other types of aircraft. This means that the training may have been a single remote combat training mission.
The flight training laws of the PLA Navy and Air Force designate summer as the peak time for large-scale multi-aircraft cooperative training and large-scale drills. Dispatching as many as 12 large bombers to perform the mission in late spring demonstrates that the PLA Air Force has greater training intensity this year.
On the other hand, the US president’s signing of the "Taiwan Travel Law" and the visit of the US officials to Taiwan has led to tension in the Taiwan Strait in recent days. Therefore, perhaps the announcement of the 12 H-6K bombers drill aims to convey to the outside world China's firm determination and will to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
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