The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) recently held a series of anti-aircraft drills off the South China Sea, a sensitive location to which the US has been frequently sending warplanes for close-up reconnaissance.
A combined arms brigade attached to the PLA 75th Group Army recently was sent to South China's Guangdong Province off the South China Sea and held a live-fire air defense firing exercise, in which the air defense troops' took part, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Tuesday.
During the drills, the radar unit identified the mock target that entered the air space of the troops' position, and reported its location, direction, altitude and speed to the anti-aircraft guns. Four self-propelled anti-aircraft guns simultaneously opened fire in two to three seconds, as dozens of shells formed a barrage of dozens of square meters into the sky, CCTV reported.
Two types of anti-aircraft guns were involved in the drills, namely, the twin 35mm barreled PGZ-09, China's most advanced self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery, and the quadruple 25mm-barreled PGZ-95, Shanghai-based news website eastday.com reported on Tuesday.
Both used by the PLA, the PGZ-09 and the HQ-17 air defense missile.
The drills involved different approaches, including linear precision targeting and dense fire coverage, to ensure the effective strikes on close-range aerial targets, the report said.
A Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times on Wednesday that the drills featured some of the top PLA anti-aircraft artillery, and showed the PLA's readiness to safeguard national security.
According to Beijing-based think tank South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), the US has conducted at least four close-up reconnaissance sorties on Guangdong since the start of August, with one on August 5 which featured the first known night sortie by an E-8C battlefield command and surveillance aircraft.