PLA holds mock battle between carrier-borne, land-based aircraft over Yellow Sea
Fighter jets attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the PLA Southern Theater Command get ready to take off from the runway for a flight training exercise in late April, 2021.Photo:China Military
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently held a mock battle between a group of aircraft carrier-borne fighter jets and a land-based joint warplane formation, as the two sides became the whetstone for each other and honed the forces’ capabilities in both countering and using aircraft carriers, experts said on Tuesday.
In the exercise above waters of the Yellow Sea, the PLA Northern Theater Command Air Force and Navy joined forces and dispatched land-based warplanes including KJ-200 early warning aircraft, J-10A fighter jets and JH-7A fighter bombers in the red team, as they faced the challenge of the blue team consisting of a group of J-15 carrier-borne fighter jets coming from the sea, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Monday.
In a combat session, the red team’s J-10A fighter jets engaged in contesting regional air superiority with the blue team’s J-15s, winning the JH-10A fighter bombers some opportunities to quickly penetrate the defense line as they eliminated their maritime targets.
Land-based anti-aircraft missile installations also participated in the drill, likely as a part of the red team.
The exercise simulated attack and defense under many different battlefield environments including air-to-air, air-to-sea and air-to-ground, CCTV reported.
No scenarios were preset in the exercise, as neither side had any idea of what was coming, Senior Captain Bian Fengchun, the deputy commander of the participating naval aviation force, told CCTV.
“The exercise practiced the buildup of the reconnaissance and early warning system, fast anti-sea attack and coordinated attack and defense, and the officers’ skills in battlefield command were also enhanced,” Bian said.
It also boosted the troops’ cross-service, coordinated combat capability, Bian said.
The mock battle is very meaningful to both aircraft carrier-borne and land-based aviation forces, as the two sides served as a whetstone for each other, developing a series of tactics against land-based warplanes for aircraft carriers while also discovering ways to counter aircraft carrier attacks from land, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Being able to join a large-scale mock battle like this shows the J-15 carrier-borne fighters and their pilots have achieved strong combat capabilities to the extent they can participate in group exercises with real tactical backgrounds. The large scale of the exercise also indicates that China is going deep into practicing countering aircraft carriers, Fu said.
China operates two aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and the Shandong, both of which use J-15 fighter jets. Aircraft carriers from outside of region, like those of the US Navy, often conduct provocative operations near China.