China has launched its first-ever cross-border simulated air strike as part of joint drills with Russia, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian States, state media reported Tuesday.
Six Chinese planes, including four bombers and two fighter jets, crossed from China into Kazakhstan as part of the mock mission, Xinhua News Agency said.
The exercise also included support from early warning aircraft and in-flight refueling, showcasing China's efforts to build a credible air deterrent able to strike over long distances, Xinhua said.
The mission was part of increasingly sophisticated annual regional security drills that this year include 5,000 troops from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. The reports did not say when the mission was carried out.
China's armed forces have intensified training in recent years with the goal of mastering new cutting-edge weapons technologies and integrating the operations of land, air and sea units.
Long a poor cousin to China's vast land army, the air force has vaulted up the technological ladder with the addition of latest generation Russian and domestically produced aircraft.
Xinhua identified the planes that took part in the cross-border flight as J-10 fighters produced domestically but powered by Russian engines, and Hong-6 bombers, an updated version of a Russian design from the 1950s that carry two land-attack cruise missiles under their wings.