John Hayward – March 26, 2018
China’s naval and air forces began what observers described as unusually large exercises in the Western Pacific and South China Sea this weekend, including H-6K bombers, Tu-154 reconnaissance planes, Yun-8 transport planes, and Su-30 and Su-35 fighters.
The Su-35 is a highly advanced fourth-generation fighter that has only been sent to the South China Sea for drills on one previous occasion. The H-6K bomber is capable of carrying long-range cruise missiles that can threaten ships or ground targets, possibly with nuclear warheads.
The combat drills passed over the Miyako Strait near Okinawa, which lies between Japan’s southern islands. The strait also happens to be located between Japan, Taiwan, and the Senkaku Islands, where Japan, Taiwan, and China all have conflicting territorial claims.
The Chinese military described the exercise as its “best preparation for war,” according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).