PLA Chinese army practices joint air-ground operations during Russian Vostok-2022 drills

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) practiced joint counterattack in foreign territories with the main battle tanks, howitzers, attack helicopters and fighter jets during the ongoing Vostok-2022 exercises in Russia, which displayed the PLA's outstanding systematic combat capabilities in unfamiliar lands. Liu Xuanzun reports in Global Times.
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Contextual illustration: PLA troops in the China-Russia joint military exercise ZAPAD/INTERACTION-2021 at a training base of the PLA Army in Qingtongxia City of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region from August 9 to 13, 2021 (Picture source: China Military via Global Times)

Ground and air forces of the PLA participating in the Vostok-2022 drills closely interoperated and launched a joint counterattack operation in a full-element live-fire joint exercise session in the Sergeyevsky training ground on Saturday local time, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Sunday, September 4.

Spearheading the operation, a frontier defense group consisting of Type 99 main battle tanks and Type 04A infantry fighting vehicles launched an attack, under the cover of twin-barrel 35mm self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicles and man-portable air defense missiles. At the same time, self-propelled howitzers delivered fire strikes on hostile armored groups and effectively suppressed them.

In the air, an assault team of eight J-10B fighter jets conducted multiple waves of precision strikes on hostile air defense missile systems.

With the enemy's forward-positioned defense forces eliminated, dozens of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles quickly maneuvered forward, using smoke screens as cover and launching concentrated attacks on key hostile targets while moving, with minesweeper vehicles clearing paths with rocket detonators.

As forces on the ground marched, a group of Z-10 and Z-19 attack helicopters launched strikes on hostile armored equipment. With joint strikes from the air and on the ground, all remaining enemy forces were eliminated, CCTV reported.

The exercise allowed the troops to make new explorations in combat tactics in foreign territories, and to make new attempts in precision cooperation with other military services and branches, Senior Colonel Jiang Zhaosheng, deputy commander of the Chinese ground tactical group in the drills, said in the CCTV report.

These drills displayed that the PLA has greatly enhanced its systematic combat capabilities in unfamiliar battlefield environments, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Monday, September 5. This requires the PLA to quickly establish an information system on the unfamiliar battlefield environment, and arrange all of its forces in a systematic and coordinated manner, Song said.

Chinese and Russian warships operating in the Sea of Japan will also assist forces on the ground during the Vostok-2022, the Russian Defense Ministry announced in a press release on Thursday. This means the PLA will eventually form a complete ground-sea-air joint combat system in the drills, observers said. The Chinese Navy has sent the Type 055 large destroyer Nanchang, the Type 054A guided-missile frigate Yancheng and the Type 903A comprehensive supply ship Dongpinghu to the Vostok-2022 drills, with experts saying that after the exercises, the Chinese and Russian navies may carry out a second joint naval patrol following the first one held in October 2021.

The Vostok-2022 drills kicked off last Thursday with combat aircraft maneuvers, anti-aircraft unit moves and mine clearance simulations in the Sea of Japan, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. More than 50,000 soldiers, more than 5,000 pieces of arms and military equipment, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships and support ships must be mobilized during these exercises. Soldiers from several border countries or allies of Russia, such as Belarus, Syria, India and China, are taking part.