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12,000 personnel take part in PLA air defense drills

08-04-2010 10:44 BJT

BEIJING - China began a five-day live-fire air defense exercise on Tuesday with fighter jets and thousands of servicemen against the backdrop of an increased regional military and diplomatic tension.

Soldiers take part in a military exercise with air defense weapons in east China's Shandong Province, Aug. 3, 2010. An air defense military exercise code-named "Vanguard-2010" kicked off in Shandong Province and central China's Henan Province on Tuesday. A total of 12,000 military personnel and seven types of military aircraft took part in the five-day military drill. (Xinhua/Cui Jiongchen)
Soldiers take part in a military exercise with air defense weapons in east China's 
Shandong Province, Aug. 3, 2010. An air defense military exercise code-named "Vanguard-2010" kicked off in Shandong Province and central China's Henan Province on Tuesday. 
A total of 12,000 military personnel and seven types of military aircraft took part in 
the five-day military drill. (Xinhua/Cui Jiongchen)
The drills, involving more than 12,000 service members from naval and army aviation units and land-based air defense forces, are taking place across the central province of Henan and eastern coastal province of Shandong, which flanks the Yellow Sea, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Chief of staff of the Jinan Military Command, Zhao Zongqi, told the China News Service that his "military command organized the drills to engage in joint air defense of the capital city".

"The aim is to increase fighting capabilities in this military region and make effective preparations for military combat," the China News Service quoted Zhao, one of the generals overseeing the drills, as saying.

The exercises, codenamed "Vanguard 2010", will involve emergency evacuation, war planning, and reconnaissance and early warning, the report said.

The exercises - aimed at ensuring preparedness for the defense of Beijing in a potential air raid - will include one live-fire drill and will take place in real-time war conditions without any previous rehearsal, it added.

About 100 aircraft of seven different types will take off 200 times to stimulate enemy moves - for air defense missiles and artillery units' confrontation practice, the report said.

The military command last Tuesday conducted another exercise, which successfully ferried loaded soldiers and loaded armor unites from Henan to a peninsula at the Yellow Sea in four hours.

The exercises come close on the heels of large naval and air drills held on China's southeast coast last week, just as the United States and Republic of Korea conducted their own naval exercises in the region, despite opposition from Beijing.

About 20 ships including the 97,000-ton carrier USS George Washington, 200 aircraft and 8,000 personnel took part in the joint exercise designed to deter infiltration from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Seoul's Yonhap News Agency quoted a high-level ROK military officer as saying last Wednesday that the two sides will "present a joint military exercise once every month until the end of the year".

The official also said a US-ROK drill is scheduled to take place in the Yellow Sea in September.

Though the US military presence is therefore expected to increase, Chinese military experts and officers said "Vanguard 2010" was "not targeting anyone but a routine, defense practice".

"Every military command has its planned exercise that cannot evolve in days. The scheduled drills are purely defensive and conducted on the inner land of Henan province," said Wen Bing, a senior colonel at the People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences, in an interview with China Daily.

"It coincides with the (sensitive) time."

Peng Guangqian, a Beijing-based military analyst, agreed the drills are no more than a training to build combat capacity, though he is "not optimistic" about the relations between Beijing and Washington.

"The US has made public its intention to contain and enclose China along with other countries. Its unfriendly attitude toward China has also been made public," Peng said.

"The current situation (worsening relations between the two sides) should not be blamed on China."

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