PLA air force conducts successful live-fire exercise on high plateau

Global Times
Huang Panyue

A brigade from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) air force successfully hit all targets with four rocket-propelled grenades after it conducted its first live-fire drill on a plateau, a move hailed by experts as a significant progress on the military's capability in cross-regional missions.

In order to make the exercise more challenging, the unnamed brigade chose a target that was only one-tenth the size of a simulated target, instead of targets that are large and easily seen, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Chinese military, reported Sunday.

It did not specify where the drill took place.

Ballistic trajectories are different on high plateaus as the air is thinner at altitude, which demands greater ability from pilots to project and adjust the firing, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Monday.

The oxygen deficit on plateaus is also physically challenging for pilots, he said.

The exercise encountered turbulence as the jets flew over the mountain valleys, as well as a sudden sandstorm which blurred the pilots' vision.

The 100 percent hit rate shows that the PLA air force is able to accomplish attacking missions in regions they are not stationed in and also in extreme environments and geographic regions, Song stressed.

The brigade, from the PLA's Eastern Theater Command, has conducted several live-fire drills at different times, in different weather conditions and on different targets in the plateau area, according to the PLA Daily report.

According to information released in the reports, Song concluded that the exercises were conducted in the regions of the PLA Western Theater Command, which shows the PLA is stressing the need for cross-regional combat ability.

The exercise aims to simulate the situation in highland regions in the island of Taiwan, and also the attacking of an air force base in Taiwan's Hualian county, Song said.


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