A JH-7 fighter bomber attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the PLA Northern Theater Command flies off a military airfield during a recent flight training exercise. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Sun Zhendong)
Japanese media accusations that Chinese aircraft used Japanese warships as imaginary targets during a missile drill is purely speculation and only reveals Japan's own guilty conscience, Chinese military experts said on Monday.
Chinese military aircraft "likely used nearby Japanese destroyers as targets during a missile drill in international waters in the East China Sea in May," Japanese media outlet Kyodo News reported on Sunday, citing Japanese government sources.
It claimed that several Chinese JH-7 fighter bombers approached two Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers that were within striking distance of anti-ship missiles.
While the Chinese pilots did not lock on guided missile radar, the Japanese intercepted communications between the Chinese aircraft in which the pilots said they would conduct a drill using the Japanese vessels as mock targets, Kyodo News said.
In response to the report, Chinese air defense expert Fu Qianshao said the evidence from the Japanese side was not trustworthy.
"During military exercises, the communications between warplanes are usually conducted through abbreviated sentences and not done through voice comms," Fu said, questioning how it was possible for the Japanese side to intercept the Chinese communications.
The JH-7 is capable of hitting targets very far away, and it is very normal to acquire a target during training by turning on its radar, Fu said. "The radar was not turned on at all, and Japan still thought it is targeted. This only means Japan has a guilty conscience, and it is purely speculation," he said.
An anonymous military expert told the Global Times that Japan is putting its own spin on China's normal flights and training, which is another aspect of the so-called China threat theory. The expert said that under this Japanese way of thinking, Chinese ships and aircraft could also have been used by Japan as mock targets every time they entered the range of Japanese missiles.
"It has already become normal that Japanese ships and aircraft follow and conduct close surveillance of Chinese military actions in the East China Sea. We have reason to worry that the presence of Japan's Self-Defense Force is a seriously dangerous military threat," the expert noted, adding that China should "stay on high alert so that a Japanese sneak attack never occurs again."