The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Russian Navy for the first time conducted a joint sea-based live-fire air defense exercise involving two surface combatants on May 4, according to Chinese media reports.
The Global Times reports that the air defense drill involved the launch of surface-to-air missiles against mock anti-ship cruise missile targets.
“Upon their approaches, the PLA Navy’s destroyer Harbin and Russian Navy’s anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs of the red team launched a short-range surface-to-air missile [SAM] each and successfully intercepted the two incoming threats,” the newspaper reports.
The Harbin is a Type 052 Luhu-class multi-role guided missile destroyer, the Admiral Tributs a Project 1155 Udaloy-class destroyer. The former carries HQ-7 (FM-80) SAMs, while the latter is is armed with the 3K95 Kinzhal SAM.
The air defense drill took place as part of a six-day joint Sino-Russian naval exercise, codenamed Joint Sea 2019, which took place from April 29 to May 4 in the port city of Qingdao and in the East China Sea and Yellow Sea.
The PLAN dispatched a submarine, two-guided missile destroyers, three-guided missile frigates, and a submarine rescue ship to this year’s iteration of the Joint Sea war games. Russia sent elements of its Pacific Fleet including a Steregushchiy-class frigate, a Slava-class guided missile cruiser, a Ropucha-class large landing ship, an Igor Belousov-class maritime search-and-rescue support vessel, and a Kilo-class diesel-electric attack submarine.
In addition, the PLAN and Russian Navy dispatched seven fixed wing aircraft, four helicopters, and at least 80 marines to the drill. Notably, Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) fighter jets intercepted two Russian Tupolev Tu-142MZ maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft flying over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea on May 3rd.
The two aircraft were likely involved in the anti-submarine warfare component of Joint Sea 2019.
Japanese fighters also spotted the Russian fleet en route to Joint Sea 2019 around 150 kilometers northeast of the island of Tsushima on April 24.
As I reported last week, a Chinese defense ministry spokesperson noted last month that the exercise will emphasize “joint maritime defensive operations” focused on “strengthening the two navies’ capability to commonly address maritime security threats.”
This included various live-fire exercises, search and rescue operations, as well as communication exercises.
According to a PLAN statement provided to the Global Times, “the red team also simulated a tanker escort operation, using missiles and guns to defend against fighter bombers of the blue team.” The statement also notes that the anti-submarine warfare and submarine rescue drills were successful.
Past Joint Sea Sino-Russian naval drills have been held around the globe including the South China Sea, the East China Sea, the Sea of Japan, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Baltic Sea.