On 4th of August, the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command launched large-scale live-fire exercises in six air and sea areas surrounding Taiwan. So which type of weapon systems are being used in this live fire exercise?
“Dongfeng” series of ballistic missiles
According to recent reports released by the Chinese Army Eastern Theater Command, troops of the Eastern Theater carried out long-range live ammunition firing training in the Taiwan Strait, and carried out precise strikes on specific areas in the eastern Taiwan Strait, which achieved the expected results. Shi Yi, the spokesman of the Eastern Theater Command, said that “The Rocket Forces of the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army carried out a multi-regional and multi-model constant-guided fire attack on the predetermined sea area off the eastern Taiwan Island, and all the missiles accurately hit the target, testing the precision strike and area denial capability. The entire live-fire training mission has been successfully completed, and the relevant sea and airspace control has been lifted.”
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense later confirmed on 4th August that from 13:56 to 16:00 that day, the People’s Liberation Army launched 11 “Dongfeng” series ballistic missiles in fractional waves to the surrounding waters of northern, southern and eastern Taiwan. Experts on the island believe that these include “Dongfeng-15B” short-range ballistic missiles.
The video footage previously released by the Eastern Theater also showed pictures of “Dongfeng-11”, “Dongfeng-15B”, “Dongfeng-16” and “Dongfeng-17” missile launch vehicles driving on the road. Considering that the People’s Liberation Army has implemented a “multi-regional, multi-model constant-guided fire assault” this time, it is very curious whether there are other missiles other than “Dongfeng-15B” participating in the exercise.
PHL-191 long-range rocket launchers
In addition to the live firing of the “Dongfeng” series of ballistic missiles through the island, the Eastern Theater Command of the PLA also used firepower in a systematic and multi-element manner in this exercise, with the connection of distance and height, demonstrating the PLA’s ability to cover Taiwan and surrounding areas with firepower.
The video released by the eastern theater shows the scene of the PLA’s long-range rocket launchers. The international media believes that what appears in the video is the PHL-191 long-range rocket launcher system. This rocket artillery system is one of the most advanced long-range striking system of the PLA, and its key performance indicators somewhat exceeds the American “HIMARS” rockets that has been recently used in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The PHL-191 long-range rocket launcher adopts a modular design, and the launching module can be easily replaced, so as to be equipped with rockets of different ranges and different types of warheads. It is said that the rocket has a range of more than 150 kilometers when using a 300mm rocket. If it is replaced with a larger caliber rocket, the range can easily reach 300-400 kilometers.
A Chinese military expert Song Zhongping said that the People’s Liberation Army has got both inertial guidance and satellite navigation guidance in their rocket artillery systems. Overall, compared with ballistic missiles, the price of MBRLs is lower, and it is relatively cost-effective.
“In the possible future military operations against Taiwan, these MBRLs will effectively attack the fortifications of the Taiwan army and remove obstacles for the Chinese Army to land on the island, which has an impressive strike effect”. He added.
Stealth fighters such as the Chengdu J-20 and Strategic Bombers such as the H-6K, etc
In addition to the long-range firing exercises of the PLA troops of the Eastern Theater Command and the missiles launched by the Rocket Forces, the Eastern Theater Command also dispatched naval vessels and various types of military aircrafts to conduct joint military operations in the sea and airspace around the Island of Taiwan.
The Air Force of the Eastern Theater Command and the Naval Air Force of the Eastern Theater Command dispatched hundreds of fighters, bombers and other multi-role fighters to the airspace in the north, southwest and southeast of Taiwan Island to carry out day and night joint reconnaissance, air assault, support and cover and other tasks.
More than 10 destroyers and frigates have been continuously deployed in the waters around Taiwan Island by the PLA, carrying out joint sealing and control operations, conducting sea sweeping alerts on fire test areas, and cooperating with friendly and neighboring forces to conduct reconnaissance and guidance.
In the video footage released by the Eastern Theater, there are footage of the J-20 stealth fighter jets and the J-11B fighter jets taking off from the airbases, as well as the H-6K bomber mounted YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missiles.
Aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines of the People’s Liberation Army Navy
According to recent reports published by the Taiwanese media, PLA’s two aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and Shandong, are moving closer to Taiwan, and two Type 055 10,000-ton destroyers have also appeared off the coast of Hualien, Taiwan.
This exercise also organized aircraft carrier formation deterrence exercises for the first time to build a three-dimensional maritime combat system, media reports specifically revealed that the exercise also used nuclear submarines to cooperate with each other.
“Under normal circumstances, nuclear submarines will cooperate with aircraft carrier formations when they perform tasks.”
Regarding the overall arrangement of the PLA’s exercise, media reports said that the exercise is the first time the PLA has organized joint air and sea exercises around the entire Taiwan Island, and practiced missions such as joint air defense, sea assault, land strike, and air superiority operations. The transition from training to combat fully reflects the great improvement in joint combat capabilities supported by the Chinese military system. It is worth noting that although this exercise was organized by the Eastern Theater Command, which is closest to Taiwan, reports said that the troops participating in the exercise actually included other theaters too.