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Global Times

PLA fighter bombers practice maritime mine blockade

Global Times

By Liu Xuanzun Published: Jul 12, 2021 06:52 PM

Fighter bombers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Aviation Forces recently held training exercises to practice setting up maritime blockades by airdropping sea mines, a tactic that can effectively deter and slow hostile warships, analysts said on Monday.

The Navy Aviation Forces of the PLA Northern Theater Command organized a series of exercises above an undisclosed sea area in the Bohai Sea featuring JH-7 fighter bombers, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Sunday.

In the drills, several JH-7 fighter bombers flew and maneuvered at a sea-skimming altitude to avoid detection by radars, penetrated hostile air defenses and dropped sea mines in the designated areas, before their returning to base for resupply of munitions and fuel, the report said.

Laying sea mines with fighter bombers is a very effective and efficient way to form a blockade that covers a large maritime area, which will deter or at least slow hostile warships in this particular direction, a Chinese military expert who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times on Monday.

It takes much longer for the enemy to sweep the mines than for the warplanes to lay them by airdropping, the expert said.

This tactic would come in handy in a possible scenario where foreign forces intervene in the Taiwan question. By temporarily blocking the reinforcing warships from countries like the US, using rapidly deployed sea mines far from the main battlefield, the PLA will gain vital opportunities and time to land amphibious assault troops on the island, analysts said.

After the resupply exercise, as night came, the JH-7 fighter bombers sortied again and conducted live-fire missile attack training, CCTV reported.

The consecutive training exercises put the endurance of the pilots and the aircraft as well as the logistics support of the base to the test, and different training objectives showed the warplane's versatility, the expert said.

"We simulated a realistic battlefield environment and focused on training stealthy, low-altitude defense penetration and the usage of multiple types of munitions in assault," Wang Wei, leader of the aviation group, was quoted as saying in the report.

The exercises tested the forces' capability to carry out real combat missions, CCTV said.

The JH-7 fighter bomber has taken part in several PLA exercise missions in key regions like near the island of Taiwan and in the South China Sea recently.

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