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China's JH-7A Fighter Bomber Provides Close Air Support in Cross-Service Exercise

© Cao ZhanliFive JH-7 fighter bombers attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under China's PLA Northern Theater Command fly in formation during a tactical flight training exercise on July 26, 2017.
Five JH-7 fighter bombers attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under China's PLA Northern Theater Command fly in formation during a tactical flight training exercise on July 26, 2017. - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.03.2024
China's JH-7A fighter bomber provided close air support to ground forces in a recent cross-service exercise, with analysts saying on Monday that the multirole aircraft has demonstrated its versatility in an attack role.
In collaboration with special forces from the army, navy and air force, an aviation brigade attached to the air force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command recently practiced close-range aerial fire support, the PLA Southern Theater Command said in a press release on Monday.

The aircraft involved in the exercise is the JH-7A fighter bomber, according to the press release.

During the exercise, the cross-service special forces on the red team were slowed down by suppressive fire of the blue team when launching an assault at a hostile vantage point. It was at this point that they requested aerial fire support.
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Under the cover of electronic warfare aircraft, the JH-7A aircraft quickly arrived at the scene and established contact with the ground units. The ground units provided attack coordinates to the JH-7A, assisting the pilots in quickly locking on and attacking targets before reporting battle damage evaluations.

The blue team responded by locking on the red team's aircraft using man-portable air defense missiles, but the red team's special forces members had already alerted the aircraft, giving it the advantage of releasing jamming flares and evacuating the mission area.
Concluding with a close win by the red team, the live-fire exercise boosted understanding among combat elements in the air, on the ground, and at sea. It also enhanced the aircraft's close-range aerial fire support capability, and led to the formulation of a standardized procedure for future combat operations, the PLA Southern Theater Command said.

The exercise further displayed the PLA's joint operational capabilities among different military services and branches, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Monday.
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A highlight of the drill is that the JH-7A, originally a fighter bomber mainly designed for tactical bombing, anti-ship and air-to-air self-defense missions, is tasked with a close air support attack role, the expert said.

It displayed the JH-7A's versatility, particularly after China retired its only dedicated attack aircraft, the Q-5, the expert said.
This article was originally published by Global Times.
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