Chinese warplanes rained down thousands of munitions at maritime targets in the disputed South China Sea, days after USS Curtis Wilbur, a U.S. warship, transited the sea.
The American vessel is accused by China of “illegally trespassing” into the country’s territorial waters of Xisha in the South China Sea, without authorization from the Chinese government. The incident took place on May 20. In response, PLA Southern Theater Command organized maritime and aerial forces to track, monitor, and warn it away.
A brigade attached to the PLA Southern Theater Command Naval Aviation Force organized JH-7 fighter bombers for a live-fire shooting exercise at a maritime target range in the South China Sea, with the focus being precision attacks and saturation attacks, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Monday. Several dozen warplanes participated in the drill, as they penetrated defense lines by skimming the sea at low altitudes, firing rockets and cannon rounds, and dropping aerial bombs on maritime targets.
A Chinese expert told the semi-official Global Times that these exercises were not related to the U.S. warship’s provocation “because a single U.S. ship has limited capability and is not worthy of a pointed exercise.”
The PLA's training and combat preparations are not only for deterrence, but also for actually winning a war should it take place at any time, analysts said.