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Chinese, Pakistan air forces conduct combat drills, pilots fly jets jointly

Pilots from the two sides also jointly flew the same planes and carried out battle training for the first time

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

joint combat drill
A file photo of a stealth fighter of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. The joint military exercise between China and Pakistan is an annual affair. Photo: AFP

today displayed its increasing bonhomie with all-weather ally Pakistan, screening a video of Chinese and Pakistani pilots jointly flying for the first time while carrying out combat practice.

"Speaking of Pakistan, the first word that comes to my mind is 'Iron Pak'," Col Wu Qian told a media briefing, stating that this year's exercise 'Shaheen-VI', held in Xinjiang from September 5 to 25, was marked by several firsts.

He quoted President Xi Jinping as saying that armed forces are the mainstay of Pakistan-friendship, highlighting the widely-held belief that cooperation with an eye on is the driving force of their all-weather ties.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) holds media briefing once a month for both foreign and domestic media.

"If we characterise Pakistan-military-to-relations," the three keywords are, "all-weather brotherhood, high-level mutual assistance and support, and deep-rooted strategic mutual trust," Wu said.

He said this year's exercise was unique as it is the first time since it began five years ago that the two sides conducted "confrontation training" at night in China and also the first time they carried out close support operations.

In yet another first, the two sides organised real combat target practice during the exercise backed by "elements such as naval aviation, special operations units from the airborne troops," he said.

Pilots from the two sides also jointly flew the same planes and carried out battle training for the first time, he said.

"There are more forces and more elements in this year's joint training exercise compared with previous ones," he said.

In this year's drills, the Chinese deployed surveillance radar planes like Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) besides J-11 fighters, JH-7 fighter-bombers, KJ-200 ground forces including surface-to-air and radar troops.

sent JF-17 Thunder fighter jets, being jointly manufactured by both countries, and early warning aircraft for the exercise.

First Published: Thu, September 28 2017. 20:29 IST