PLA 73rd Group Army launches a surface-to-air missile
PLA 73rd Group Army launches a surface-to-air missile

Chinese People’s Liberation Army Holds Mock Air Defense Battles Amid Frequent US Recon Flights

China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Wednesday evening reported that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is holding mock air defense battles in the coastal region of South China’s Guangdong Province, a location that has seen frequent aerial close-in reconnaissance operations by US military aircraft in the past few days. Anti-aircraft guns, road-mobile anti-aircraft missiles and radar installations were deployed in the drills. The report did not disclose when the exercises started and when they are scheduled to conclude. The drills took place at a time when the US continuously sent reconnaissance aircraft to this area for close-in reconnaissance operations from Monday to Wednesday.

An air defense brigade under the PLA 74th Group Army is conducting this confrontational drill along the coastline of western Guangdong set in a real-combat scenario. During a mock battle, four high-speed target drones were released and launched an attack on a battle position with the support of simulated jamming aircraft. Anti-aircraft artillery units immediately formed a network with their fire-control radars, narrowed down the scope of early warning and identified hostile targets, before unleashing a barrage of bullets on them. The air defense drills can be seen as a reminder to the US that their provocative actions should not go any farther.

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PLA’s drills are routinely scheduled and not targeted at any specific country, but US’ aerial close-in reconnaissance operations pose threats to China’s national security, so the drills also show that the PLA is always prepared to defend against any hostile aggression, a Chinese military expert told the Global Times on Thursday under condition of anonymity. The air defense brigade in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province is a force with rich experience. Two years ago, it was part of a massive joint air defense drill, which featured the PLA Army, Navy, Air Force, and Rocket Force in the Bohai Bay.

The 73rd Group Army, formerly 31st group army, (Military Unit Cover Designator 73111) is a military formation of China’s People’s Liberation Army and one of three active group armies belonging to the Nanjing Military Region. It is active since 1949. It is based at Xiamen, Fujian and is composed of the 86th Motorized Infantry Division (People’s Republic of China) and the 91st Motorized Infantry Division, along with an armored brigade, an air defense brigade, a surface-to-air missile regiment, an artillery regiment, and an engineer regiment. It is considered a Category A unit, with priority status in terms of readiness, strength, and modern equipment. Based on its training activities and positioning, its primary mission is presumed to be the libration of Taiwan.

PLA 73rd Group Army launches a surface-to-air missile
A missile launching vehicle attached to an air-defense battalion of a combined arms brigade under the PLA 73rd Group Army launches a surface-to-air missile at a simulated aerial target during a whole-process live-fire test on June 21, 2020. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Wang Lei)
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