Beijing Sends Strategic Bombers For "Real Combat" Practice To Massive War Games In Russia

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAF) will send H-6K bombers, J-10A fighters, JH-7A fighter-bombers, IL-76 and Y-9 transport aircraft, and a team of airborne troops to Russia for the upcoming International Army Games (IAG) 2018.

The war games, first launched by Russia in 2014, will be co-organized this year by China, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Iran and Armenia from July 29 to August 11, said CGTN News. IAG 2018 will consist of 28 ‘real combat’ military competitions. China will oversee four of these war games:

IAG 2018 will start in Russia on July 29:

The PLAF “will send delegations to Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus from late July to mid-August to participate in the International Army Games 2018. And we will also host four competitions in China,” Senior Colonel Wu Qian, Director General of the Information Office of China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND), stated at the ministry’s monthly press conference on June 28.

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, Director General of the Information Office of China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND), addresses a press conference in Beijing, China, on June 28, 2018. (Source: CGTN)

“The PLA Army will host Suvorov Attack, Clear Sky and Safety Route in Korla of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and the PLA Navy will host Seaborne Assault in Quanzhou City of southeast China’s Fujian Province,” Colonel Wu added.

IAG 2018 will bring together 181 teams from 32 countries, a significant increase from last year when 150 teams from 28 countries participated. Also, there will be six new participant countries this year, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on July 06.

It is a pleasure to see that the scope of competitions expand geographically and the list of participants grow,” Shoigu told Russia’s TASS news agency.

“Military servicemen from Algeria, Vietnam, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sudan and the Philippines will demonstrate their skill for the first time,” Shoigu said.

“The Games begin in one month’s time from now. During this period everything must be done to create the maximum comfortable conditions not only for participants, but also for many devotees of army sports,” he added.

According to Xinhua News, it will be the first time that H-6K bombers and Y-9 transport aircraft have gone abroad to take part in military games, a spokesperson for the PLAF said at a recent press conference.

A PLA airforce Y-9 transport aircraft is seen during a training module in preparation for the International Army Games on July 9, 2018. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) air force will send H-6K bombers, J-10A fighters, JH-7A fighter-bombers, IL-76 and Y-9 transport aircrafts, and a team of airborne troops to Russia to participate in the International Army Games 2018. It will be the first time that H-6K bombers and Y-9 transport aircraft have gone abroad to take part in military competitions. (Source: Xinhua/Yang Pan)

Two PLA airforce JH-7A fighter-bombers are seen during a training module in preparation for the International Army Games on July 12, 2018. (Source: Xinhua/Yang Pan)

A PLA airforce IL-76 transport aircraft is seen during a training module in preparation for the International Army Games on July 12, 2018(Source: Xinhua/Yang Pan)

A PLA airforce J-10A fighter is seen during a training module in preparation for the International Army Games on July 11, 2018. (Source: Xinhua/Yang Pan)

A PLA airforce H-6K bomber is seen during a training module in preparation for the International Army Games on July 12, 2018. (Source: Xinhua/Yang Pan)

The war games come at a time when tensions between Beijing and Washington are elevated. Earlier this month, two US destroyers, the USS Mustin and the USS Benfold, passed through the Taiwan Strait in what China considers to be a significant violation of its One China Policy, which recognizes Taiwan as part of China.

Increasing relations between Taipei and Washington had stressed Beijing, especially in March, when President Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act, paving the way for reciprocal visits between US and Taipei officials. Further, Washington greenlighted sales to Taiwan of its submarine technology, which severely angered China. There are also reports that Taipei wants M1A2 Abrams tanks, to serve as a coastal line of defense should China invade.

For some time, Washington has been using the “freedom of navigation”  in the South China Sea, to sail its warships and conduct aerial patrols with strategic nuclear bombers near the disputed islands. Beijing has responded by constructing artificial islands and deploying military infrastructure on the Paracels, as well as on the Spratly Islands. In May, we reported that China landed the H-6K strategic bomber for the first time on Woody Island, the country’s largest military base in the South China Sea.

As China and Russia prepare for massive war games next week, it is becoming increasingly obvious that a handful of countries in the Eastern Hemisphere are preparing for the inevitable war with Washington.