China Flaunts Xian JH-7 'Flying Leopards' as Military Conducts Live-Fire Drills Over South China Sea
China has flaunted its self-built fighter-bombers, dubbed the 'Flying Leopard,' during a live-fire drill over the South China Sea with footage aired on the state-broadcaster China Central Television Station (CCTV) on Sunday.
The fighter jets carried out a series of exercises including the detection and expulsion of foreign military surveillance aircraft like those usually deployed by the US and other countries in the area. The live-fire drill was allegedly conducted by an unmanned flying squad from China's South Sea Fleet, the Daily Mail reported.
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The video also showed a squadron of two-seater Xian JH-7 Flying Leopards flying in formation and dropping bombs on targets in the ocean below. Other video showed planes just flying a few meters above the ocean's surface.
After that, pilots were notified that a foreign plane had entered China's airspace to conduct surveillance. The tower then immediately commanded one of the planes to break off and intercept the incoming aircraft, the report said. The plane increased its elevation and "responded effectively," seizing the commanding position and "successfully expelling" the foreign plane, it said.
It is unclear when the exercises took place. But China earlier said that its military drills would be more realistic and concentrate on specific situations that will take aircraft to the limits of their range and capability.
"In the process of unceasingly challenging ourselves, the building of our team of talents has entered a fast lane," Tian Junqing, commanded of an unidentified South China Sea naval air force regiment, said. "The overall combat capability of the force is increasing by stages, forging a formidable force that dares to fight and thunders over the South China Sea."