China and Pakistan are conducting a joint military exercise in Tibet along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Tribune News has reported.
The exercise comes in the backdrop of a recent move of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), which has, for the first time, integrated its units with air-defense assets with PLA-Air Force (PLAAF) along the LAC.
The exercise, which reportedly started on May 22, is scheduled to end in the middle of this week.
The joint military drill comes in the backdrop of around 1-year military standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh. The number of Pakistan troops taking part in the exercise is not known; however, from the Chinese side, troops of the 3 Air Defense Division are participating in it.
In the run-up to the exercise, the PLA conducted a pre-exercise training for the Pakistan army at Sargodha, Punjab, Pakistan.
Pakistan already uses some of the missiles being used in this exercise. For India, this means that similar arsenal could be on board PLA navy and Pakistan navy warships. Moreover, Indian pilots, drones and missiles could face similar threats and counters on both borders, the Tribune news said, adding:
Indian security establishment is aware that the Chinese low-to-medium altitude air-defense system, also known as LY-80, is being used. This is a medium-range surface-to-air defense missile system with around 150-km range. It can intercept and destroy aerial targets flying at low and medium altitude.
The second set of missiles being used in the exercise are SM-6, Eagle anti-ship cruise missiles (better known in military circles by their numbers YJ-81, YJ-82 & C-802). C-802 is the export version of YJ-802 land attack and anti-ship cruise missile with a range of 120-150 km. The C-802 anti-ship missile can also be launched from a fighter jet. Tibet has several lakes and water bodies where dummy ships are placed for target practice.
China and Pakistan joint exercise in December
This is the second joint military exercise in less than six months. In December 2020, China and Pakistan conducted joint air force exercises in the southern desert of Pakistan near the border with India in a not-so-subtle message to a country with which both have long had tense relations, according to Nikkei.
The drills came just a week after Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe visited Pakistan and signed a memorandum of understanding for deepening military cooperation.
The exercises, dubbed Shaheen -- or Falcon -- IX, were held at the newly operational Bholari air base in the arid region of Sindh in the country's south, less than 200 km from the Indian border.
The Pakistan Air Force released a video showing the wide range of military aircraft on display in the exercise.
China has sent its fourth-generation Shenyang J-11 air-superiority fighters and Chengdu J-10 multirole jets. Pakistan, meanwhile, is flying a mix of third-generation Chinese-made Chengdu F-7 interceptors, French Dassault Mirage 5 attack planes and the new multirole JF-17 Thunder -- jointly produced by China and Pakistan. No American equipment, such as the F-16, has been deployed, the Pakistanis said.
Pakistan's air force, which comprises a mix of U.S., French and Chinese hardware, has become increasingly reliant on Beijing. Islamabad's economic and political proximity to China and decades of simmering tensions with archrival India have created what it sees as a need for closer tactical cooperation with its larger neighbor and stronger ally, the Nekkie reported.
Beijing and Islamabad, meanwhile, have been strengthening their relationship, which they have glowingly described as an "all-weather friendship" and "iron brotherhood" since the 1950s, with decades of steady economic, military and even nuclear support from China for Pakistan.
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