03 December 2017
China’s home-grown Y-9 transport aircraft appears to be combat ready after completing its first long-distance exercise over the South China Sea.
The People’s Liberation Army Air Force announced on its social media account on Saturday that a fleet of the aircraft from the Western Theatre Command flew thousands of kilometres to simulate an airdrop over an island in the contested waters before returning the same day.
Military observers said the exercise was an attempt to show the PLA’s ability to fend off attacks from the sea and to mobilise different theatre commands in a crisis.
Collin Koh, a research fellow on maritime security from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said the deployment of aircraft from the Western Theatre Command on the border with India to the Southern Theatre Command which covers the South China Sea signalled the integration of different PLA units.
“The PLA is gradually improving its ability to not just employ the Southern Theatre Command to execute those missions but also to demonstrate that in the event of an escalation of a crisis or prolonged conflict, it’s possible for the PLA to tap forces from other theatres, even if those theatres are not fully involved,” Koh said.
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 04/12/2017