China-Japan island dispute: Beijing orders helicopter units to be combat ready
BEIJING: Amid rising tensions with Japan over disputed islands, Chinese army in a bid to scale up battle readiness has ordered its armed helicopters to shift focus from logistic missions and gear up for combat operations.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) planned to change the training strategy of its army aviation unit as more and more armed helicopters joined the service, PLA Daily which is the official newspaper of the military quoted an army aviation unit as saying.
The focus of army aviation unit will be shifted from logistics missions to combat ones, from building the capacity for non-war military actions to core military actions, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the daily as saying.
The unit will work on major missions such as long-distance tasks, large scale offshore operations, attack coordination with other units and large scale airborne operations, it said, adding that the unit will also aim to improve its operation capability based on IT technologies.
Both China and Japan have scaled up military operations after the escalation of the dispute over the islands called Diaoyu by China and Senkakus by Japan.
The PLA move comes in the backdrop of recent military drills conducted by the Japanese army helicopters to defend the islands from enemy raids.
Chinese military exercises in recent months involving ships and aircraft focused on taking the islands and retaining them.
While naval ships of both the countries patrolled the waters of the islands, the two also scrambled aircraft last week to intercept surveillance planes.
Conflict over the islands escalated after Japan, which retained the administrative control over the islands bought them from a private party.
Objecting the move, China sent its ships into the island waters.
On January 15, General Staff Headquarters of the PLA had asked commanders and soldiers to strengthen their readiness for possible war with a directive to stage more exercises.
"The General Staff Headquarters of PLA has pledged to stage more military drills that simulate real combat, urging commanders and soldiers to strengthen their readiness for possible war", the PLA daily reported.
In a directive on military training in 2013, the headquarters said the PLA is determined to improve its combat capability by holding more military exercises to mock real situations on the battlefield, according to the report.
All servicemen and servicewomen should always bear in mind the awareness of war and the sense of crisis, the directive said.
Source: News - 20 January 2013
Photo: In this September 14, 2012 file photo, Chinese surveillance ship Haijian No. 51, left, and a Japan Coast Guard vessel sail near disputed islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, seen in the background, in the East China Sea. (Photo by AP)