China conducts anti-submarine exercises as neighbors beef up their underwater forces

BEIJING: High-intensity exercises have been used by China's navy to improve its anti-submarine training as the US, Australia and Japan attempt to strengthen their underwater forces in the region.

Earlier this week, the naval air wing of the Eastern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) engaged in a 48-hour high-intensity anti-submarine warfare exercise.

The command, in charge of operations in the East China Sea and around Taiwan, confirmed that its Naval Air Force is "always ready for combat."

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In photos shared on the command's official social media account, at least three Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft were pictured standing together in a lit hangar at night, getting ready to take off.

Analyzing radar, magnetic, optical and electronic signals, the crew members used sonar buoys during the exercise to differentiate between simulated targets and real submarines. As ordered, he locked the targets and continuously tracked and observed them.

According to the command, the exercise emphasized the use of real combat scenarios in training and accelerated the development of combat endurance and ability of soldiers to fight in challenging conditions.

The command said the crew's cardiovascular endurance, balance training, fatigue resistance, and G-force endurance would all be improved during the next phase of training.

Amid rising military tensions in the Asia-Pacific and the rapid development of underwater forces by regional powers, the PLA is pushing for anti-submarine warfare.

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The United States has significantly increased its submarine presence in the waters around China, according to the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative, with nuclear submarine activity in the South China Sea reported nearly every month last year (SCSPI).

The USS Connecticut was damaged and crew members were hurt when the submarine collided with an underwater mountain in the South China Sea in October 2021.

The US Navy expanded facilities at its submarine base in Guam in April to make room for five Virginia-class submarines and five Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarines.

In March, Japan commissioned its first state-of-the-art Taigi-class submarine. Four more are due to be commissioned in the coming years. The ships are Japan's current generation replacement Sryu-class submarines.

China strongly opposes the plan, citing the risk of nuclear proliferation as the reason. Australia has also announced plans to purchase nuclear submarines from the US and the UK through the Ocus alliance.

The primary anti-submarine warfare aircraft of the PLA is the Shaanxi Y-8 series, which were used in the exercise. The Japanese and Taiwanese defense ministries claim that the aircraft frequently patrol the East China Sea and close to Taiwan.

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Turboprop aircraft based on the Soviet Antonov An-12 are considered outdated. According to reports, a Y-8 craashed in the South China Sea in March, killing all seven crew members.

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