War Games Frequently Held on Southeast Coast

by special correspondents Shao Peng and Hsi Yang
Hong Kong Ta Kung Pao 12 August 1999 page A2

Fuzhou, 11 Aug -- Since Li Teng-hui came out with the "two-state theory," cross-strait tensions increasingly have mounted and the troops stationed on the mainland's southeast coast have gone on a high degree of alert. To gather news, we recently went down to the aircraft, missile, and antiaircraft units reputed to be the "fists" of China's air force. Wherever we went, we were moved by the enthusiasm of officers and men for assiduous military training. The officers and men said: We will defend the motherland's dignity and territorial integrity with actual strength.

Hunting Eagles Contended for Air Supremacy

The airport, which remained operational in the evening, was magnificent and unusual. Numerous runway lights extended as far as to where heaven and earth met, like a galaxy on earth. Trucks were towing fighter planes to the departure line. With a loud roar, fighter planes climbed in succession into the vast night sky. When they touched down, their sparkling lights were like red pearls. It was a really beautiful sight. Colonel Yang, political commissar of a certain air force regiment, who showed us around, gave us, with pride, an account of the regiment's glorious past and splendid performance. He said the regiment is an outstanding flying unit of China's air force. It has been elected an advanced unit for its excellent achievements in all-round building for nine years running, and won the first prize in the Chinese air force's first navigation knowledge competition. The entire regiment gained a Collective Award of Merit, Third Class, while its Flying Group 1 gained a Collective Award of Merit, Second Class. Since being reorganized into a special unit responsible for night interception 10 years ago, the regiment has flown to Fujian three times for training, and has taken part in all major live-fire exercises held by the Chinese army over the last few years on the southeast coast. The regiment in particular was commended by the higher authorities in the three-forces war game staged in the Taiwan Strait in early 1996. In 1996, the regiment did a remarkable job in the rearranged training involving the latest model of Chinese-made planes, and developed the fighting capacity of the unit equipped with new planes 120 days ahead of schedule. Last year, in connection with its mobility exercise, the regiment successfully accomplished an evening "air strike countermeasure exercise." By accomplishing those important training missions, the night flying regiment demonstrated its dynamic potential for future development and its favorable growth momentum.

As we were told, the night interception regiment was transformed from an ordinary flying regiment at the order of the Central Military Commission [CMC]. It is mainly responsible for cruising and air defense at night on the southeast coast. In the major military operations over the last few years, the regiment was reputed to be "the first regiment of East China" and "the iron fist in the evening sky" for being brave and skillful in battle and its daring to stand up to a strong opponent. Col. Yan, the regiment commander, said: Every member of the regiment has a "discerning eye" in the evening sky, and can fulfill the mission of contending for air supremacy and air cover in fine weather or foul. Their hit rate of first attack was 100 percent. They have developed basic operational measures against the enemy's principal group of planes. A total of 80 percent of the regiment's members have received sea combat training. Therefore, they are worthy of being called an "iron fist" in night battle.

Surface-to-Air Missile Regiment Defends Southeast China

The surface-to-air missile is a sharp weapon for air defense, and an antidote against all kinds of aircraft, cruise missiles, and strategic missiles. This time we visited a surface-to-air missile regiment equipped with advanced surface-to-air missiles. According to our guide, being highly automatic, the missiles can intercept high or low altitude targets. During the 1996 three-forces war game on the southeast coast, for the first time the missile regiment attacked targets at various altitudes with those missiles. As a result, the six missiles they fired all hit home. CMC Vice Chairman Zhang Wannian, who watched the war game, said very gladly: "Well done! Well done!"

According to regimental commander Colonel Xiao's briefings, this missile unit was established in the 1970s, primarily responsible for air-defense operations in important southeastern coastal areas. For the past two decades, it has undergone training four times in the coastal areas of Fujian and has fought 10 times in different areas north and south of the Chanjiang. It is a ground-air defense unit winning resounding fame throughout southeastern airspace. After being equipped with a new-generation ground-to-air missile weapon system in 1994, it has higher combat effectiveness. It was listed by the CMC as an emergency maneuver force. Through years of effort, the regiment is able to carry out mobile operations in any direction across the country in the fixed time and on the prescribed scale, without temporary combat training or additional personnel. Under modern warfare conditions, it can effectively hit air targets which come in different directions, from different heights, and with different intervals and characteristics. It has become a powerful maneuver unit and a "trump card" worthy of the name, guarding southeastern airspace.

Antiaircraft Artillery Intercepts Cruise Missiles

With antiaircraft artillery, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia armed forces brought down 30 advanced warplanes and 40 cruise missiles of the NATO air force, including F-117 Stealth bombers. Antiaircraft artillery, which was soon to be forgotten, has drawn attention anew. The air force antiaircraft artillery regiment this reporter visited was a heroic unit with outstanding military exploits. It previously entered the wars in the DPRK and Vietnam, shooting down over 100 enemy planes. Regimental commander Lieutenant Colonel Liu said that, compared with fighter planes and ground-to-air missiles, antiaircraft artillery has its backward aspect and deficiencies. It also has functions that cannot be replaced by other air defense weapons, however. These functions manifest themselves primarily in the following areas: rapid reaction, fierce firepower, and excellent performance in hitting targets at a low and ultra-low attitude; flexible and diverse means and ways of identifying and hitting targets, strong antijamming ability; and broad accommodation, and capability to carry out various combat missions. It can be used for air defense in important areas and for mobile operations; it can cover key areas and carry out mobile screening action. It can hit air targets as well as ground (sea) and parachute targets. It has a relatively strong capability to fend off air attacks, and a better capacity for self-defense and survival. It can carry out shooting with concentrated and distributed firepower. It can fire on its own even with the last gun. So the key is to foster the confidence of officers and men in daring to fight and to win.

Regimental Commander Liu said that in carrying out troop training through science and technology with mass participation, and in studying operational methods, an important consideration for the regiment is how to give full play to the potential of the existing equipment. It mainly studied how to organize antiaircraft artillery to intercept cruise missiles and other sophisticated missiles; how to raise the counterattack ability at night, in complicated weather, and under jamming conditions. At the same time, it would concentrate technological forces in launching the technological transformation of the existing weaponry, use new technology, and expand new functions. The regiment has developed a set of verified methods of air defense operation. In day and night assaults against the blue army at a low and ultra-low attitude as part of the 1996 air-land-sea joint military exercises, a battalion under the regiment was able to promptly identify and hit targets effectively, bringing down the blue army's warplanes and winning three victories in three battles. This showed that the regiment has a relatively strong air defense capability under modern warfare conditions. It has received favorable comments from the CMC, the headquarters, and air force chiefs.

The sharp "divine sword" is guarding the vast sky. With fine traditions and an indomitable spirit as well as mastery of its weapons, the air force antiaircraft artillery certainly can win victory in an air defense operation once a cross-strait war breaks out.

[PTS Translated Text for FBIS "Article Reports on War Games in Southeast" 12 Aug 1999 FBIS-CHI-1999-0812 ]