China's PLA held live drills with 100 ballistic missiles

Beijing: China's newly formed Rocket Force launched 100 ballistic missiles last year while army conducted scores of live drills, official media reported on Wednesday, as the 2.3 million strong PLA, the world's largest army, adopts a more aggressive posture with massive structural revamp.

Each combatant branch of the PLA — the Army, Navy, Air Force and Rocket Force — has confirmed that realistic training drills and exercises were intensified last year under military reforms initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, state-run China Daily said in a lengthy feature on how the Chinese military is transforming itself.

 Chinas PLA held live drills with 100 ballistic missiles

Representational image. AFP.

"The Army sent 15 brigades to participate in more than 100 drills; the Air Force conducted at least six large, long-range training drills in the Western Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea; the Rocket Force carried out more than 20 exercises and launched nearly 100 ballistic missiles," the report said.

"The Navy organised three live-fire exercises that featured a large number of forces from its three fleets," in addition to the first aircraft carrier Liaoning battle group conducting its first live-fire drill, four years after its commissioning. The massive modernisation of the military which has annual budget of over USD 146 billion also made big strides in armament modernisation last year.

"The Air Force is now taking delivery of the Y-20 strategic transport plane, mass production of the J-20 stealth fighter is understood to have started. A next-generation strategic bomber is also being developed for the Air Force and is expected to be unveiled soon," the report said. However, while China is developing new generation of fighter aircraft, it is still heavily reliant on engines from Russia which remained a major technology partner.

At the same time, the first domestically designed aircraft carrier is taking shape at a shipyard in Dalian, it said. It will be the second carrier for the military in addition to Liaoning whose hull was built in former Soviet Union. Report say China is also planning to have a third carrier. The Rocket Force which was previously known as strategic force has commissioned a new type of strategic ballistic missile, the report said without disclosing details.

Also, over 50 high-ranking generals were convicted for graft in the unprecedented sweep in the military. "A sweeping anti-corruption campaign within the military did not ease up last year. According to the information available, at least seven high-ranking officers - including the former political commissar of the PLA Air Force and the former commander of the People's Armed Police Force - were placed under internal investigation after being accused of corrupt activities," it said.

Updated Date: Jan 11, 2017 14:15:38 IST