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Beating The Typhoons & Thunders, Chinese Su-30, J-10 Fighter Jets Display Their Aerial Prowess

Chinese Su-30 and J-10 fighter jets engaged in a dogfight when a strong Typhoon struck east China’s Zhejiang Province last week. The exercise was conducted amid heavy thunderstorms and poor visibility.

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The move was to test PLA’s all-weather combat readiness, analysts told state-owned Global Times.

In the course of the exercise, various Su fighters and J-10s that were a part of the aviation brigade affiliated with the PLA Eastern Theatre Command Navy took off from an airfield in eastern Zhejiang and then were split into red and blue teams.

These two teams carried out confrontational exercises against each other, China Central Television (CCTV) reported. The visibility was low as a result of the heavy thunderstorms, while fighter jets from both teams maneuvered in the clouds and mist, as they tried to attain advantageous positions.

Designed and developed by Sukhoi Aviation Corporation during the Soviet era, the Sukhoi Su-30 is a twin-engine, two-seat supermaneuverable fighter jet.

A Chinese Sukhoi Su-30.

The all-weather, multi-role fighter can carry out air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions. Currently, China and its neighbor India, possess the Russian fighter jet. The two countries have modified their Su-30 fighters, according to their needs.

The J-10 is China’s indigenously built multirole fighter aircraft developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry. The J-10 is considered the replacement for the J-7 and Q-5 aircraft. The latest variant, J-10C, was inducted into PLA in April 2018.

High-Risk Combat Drills

“The drill, which ran from 11 am to 7 pm, was held under complex weather conditions that tested pilots’ flying techniques, combat tactics, and ability to deal with emergencies and high risks. It also challenged the ground personnel responsible for logistics support and maintenance, so that every warplane can sortie under the best conditions”, the PLA Navy said in a statement.

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“War could take place at any time or in any season, so training should be held all the time, regardless of the weather,” a commander at the brigade was quoted in the statement as saying.

“Heavy rainfall could affect an aircraft’s performance, particularly when taking off and landing, and requires a high level of ground maintenance, so it is important to enhance related training”, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Monday.

A J-10 fighter jet fires rockets at mock ground targets during an exercise.

Typhoon In-Fa, the strongest typhoon till now in 2021 to strike China, arrived twice in Zhejiang on July 25 and July 26, forcing the authorities to evacuate residents and suspend flights and trains.

This was not the first time when PLA demonstrated its combat readiness by conducting aerial exercises during extreme weather conditions. In March, fighter jets including a J-11 and a Y-8 transport aircraft carried out flight drills amid severe thunderstorms.

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The airplanes had faced poor visibility along with challenges to their ground maintenance. According to experts, conducting exercises in extreme and complex weather conditions will enable the PLA to bolster its combat competence. The military will be able to defend itself against surprise attacks from potential adversaries and can also launch such attacks against them, the experts added.  

— Written by Kashish Tandon

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