The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy recently conducted its first competitive live-munition underwater anti-mine warfare exercise, with experts saying the training focused on future military scenarios.
Bombers, minesweepers and mine-hunting ships of multiple PLA theater commands participated in "back-to-back" tests in the East China Sea, which included covert installation of underwater mines by air units, navigational path clearance by surface ships, and mine detection and sweeping, the official website of the PLA Navy, navy.81.cn reported Friday.
Installation and clearance of underwater mines is an important naval battle capability that must be improved upon in preparation for possible future foreign interference in the Taiwan Straits, the South China Sea or the East China Sea, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Monday.
Some military powers could block China's key marine outfalls and navigation paths by installing mines to delay the PLA, Song added, noting that PLA Navy preventative strategy could help defuse such foreign threats.
PLA deterrence strategy of laying underwater mines could also effectively keep foreign forces away from China's coastal waters, he said.
Nearly 20 underwater mines were installed, detected and swept during the assessment.
"The simulation was very realistic because we didn't have any information about the mines related to quantity, model or location," Zhu Shizhai, commander of a Southern Theater Command anti-mine fleet, was quoted by the report as saying.
Zhu's fleet was the first to find and eliminate a navigational path mine in the assessment on June 12.
PLA officials simulated complex scenarios according to real battlefield rules and did everything possible to recreate realistic combat situations in order to reinforce troops' strengths and improve upon their weaknesses.
Mine clearance is a challenge not only for China, but also for militarily advanced countries such as the US and Japan, he said, adding that reinforcement of the capability better prepares militaries for future operations.
More than 40 experts and professors from PLA Navy training institutions and research institutes and colleges were allocated to different fleets to comprehensively evaluate ships' mine-sweeping operations based on tactical methods, maneuvering process, and combat effectiveness.