Chinese Air Force's strategic projection capability proven in epidemic

Global Times
Huang Panyue
2020-02-18 00:39:58

A Y-20 transport aircraft makes a flight demonstration during an activity celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) air force in Changchun, capital of northeast China's Jilin Province, Oct. 17, 2019. (Xinhua/Lin Hong)

In the fourth of a series of missions, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force on Monday transported military personnel and supplies via cargo planes to Wuhan to help control the novel coronavirus outbreak.

These missions have proved the Air Force's strategic projection capability, experts said.

A total of eight transport aircraft, namely three Y-20s, one Il-76 and three Y-9s, left their bases across China on Monday morning, arriving in Shenyang, Zhanjiang, Lanzhou, Datong, Chengdu, Shanghai and Xinjiang to load personnel and supplies, before taking off again to arrive at Wuhan's Tianhe International Airport, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday.

In about 21 minutes, the eight aircraft that took off from seven different locations across China all landed in Wuhan, the report said.

Military expert Du Wenlong said that this would require very accurate air traffic control, coordination and support, making it a challenging task, Xinhua reported.

While this might not seem so significant in fighting the epidemic, it will play a very important role in a war, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Monday.

This means a large number of Chinese soldiers, together with heavy weapons and equipment like tanks and anti-aircraft installations, can be deployed by air in a short time instead of being transported slowly, allowing them to form combat capabilities in the frontline very quickly to grasp valuable battle opportunities, the expert said.

The PLA Air Force previously dispatched three Il-76s to Wuhan on January 24, and eight Il-76s on February 2, with 11 transport aircraft consisting of Y-20s, Il-76s and Y-9s arriving on Thursday.

In the three previous missions, the aircraft also arrived in short periods of time.

With only a three-day interval since the mission that featured 11 aircraft on Thursday, the consecutive mission on Monday showed the Air Force's combat readiness in logistics support, loading, command, maintenance and flight, Du said, noting that the many airfields involved also showed very high logistics support capabilities.

This is an example of the achievements of the Chinese Air Force in transforming into a real combat-oriented strategic force, Du said.

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