Journal : Global Times (Chinese) Date : Author : GT special correspondent visiting Yunnan Qiu Yongzheng, GT special correspondent Tian Yu Page No. : 9
URL : NA

“Made by several countries” is the main strength of warplanes                         Inaccurate bombing due to several factors

GT special correspondent visiting Yunnan Qiu Yongzheng, GT special correspondent Tian Yu

People on the Chinese side face “fish crisis” due to several months of continuous military conflict in northern Burma. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hong Lei, told at a regular press conference, it is clear that the casualties on the Chinese side were caused by a bomb from Burmese military aircraft. The investigation team sent by Burmese side has already reached the China-Myanmar border area to carry out a joint investigation along with the Chinese side. On March 16, photos, showing Chinese Air Force gathered in large numbers at the China-Myanmar border, were circulating on the web. So, how powerful is the Myanmar Air Force?

What does a “civil war-specialised Air Force” possess?

Air force has been one of the most frequently used armed forces in the long-drawn-out conflict with the local minority ethnic rebels (local rebels), so much so that it can be called a “civil war-special air force”. Austrian Aviation history expert, Tom Cooper, explains the main mission of Myanmar air force and the build up of its arsenal has revolved around fighting insurgency since 1950s.According to Britain’s “Jane’s Defence Weekly”, total strength of Myanmar Air Force, at present, is about 23,000 personnel, deployed at the strategic points across the country. Air force headquarters in Yangon is the highest body of Myanmar Air Force, air commodore is the supreme commander of air force, and usually he also serves as the deputy chief of Myanmar Armed Forces. The headquarters directly governs air force units, radar units, and paratrooper units etc. Myanmar Air Force controls many other control centres like northern, southern, western, eastern and south-eastern command etc. and often makes use of Myitkyina, Lashio, Bhamo, Mawlamyine (or Moulmein) airports to deal with the local rebels. Myanmar Air Force has already installed optical fibre communication network between the major bases in the country; it can now integrate the control of fighters, radars, surface to air missiles and can have certain command automation ability.

Myanmar Air force has 5 air bases, 1 air training base, 1 ground service training base, and 1 maintenance base, more than 300 fully equipped aeroplanes, of which more than 150 fighter aircrafts, mainly F-7, Q-5, PC-9, MIG-29 and others. Besides this, it also has 14 cargo aircrafts, 7 liaison aircrafts and 66 helicopters. Since 1990s till today, Myanmar Air Force has imported many types of fixed-wing fighter aircrafts and helicopters from Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Poland and China. It has also set up a special procurement office in India to obtain spare parts for Russian made fighter aircrafts from India.

Why repeated mistakes in ground attacks?

As for the equipment, the overall strength of Myanmar Air Force is inferior to that of most of the countries in its neighbourhood. It’s not enough to guard the country’s land territory but can just about deal with the defenceless local insurgents. Since conflict ridden areas of northern Myanmar are mountainous, the movement of ground forces is inconvenient; therefore Burmese Military usually employs its air force in these areas. Besides using the helicopters for delivering supplies in the mountains, Burmese Army also often uses the warplanes and helicopters to carry out raids and combats.

National Democratic Alliance Army (Kokang) sources told “Global Times” journalist, Myanmar Air Force usually uses Q-5 and MIG -29 fighters to attack Kokang region. Of these the low altitude performance Q-5 carries the conventional bombs and is used for bombing, MIG-29 however uses guns and rockets to carry out the ground attack. These warplanes take off mainly from Lashio base, which has already become Myanmar’s most important frontline airport, equipped with complete ammunition, fuel supply and logistics maintenance capabilities.

The sources revealed, the poor accuracy of Myanmar Air Force bombing is due to several factors. First of all, Myanmar Air Force fighters had received training to attack fixed ground positions and facilities etc., these while dealing with agile individual targets of NDAA (Kokang) guerrillas fair quite badly. Secondly, in the high mountains and dense forests, it’s very difficult for the warplanes to discern ground targets from far above. Besides, the shortage of qualified pilots is also an important reason for the repeated mistakes by Myanmar Air Force in dropping bombs. It is alleged that in Myanmar Air Force, ranks of pilots really having the complete grasp of combat skills are generally squadron leader and above.

“Global Times” reporter has learnt, Myanmar Army has some air to ground coordination capability but on the whole tactics appear very rigid. Their attack pattern is always the same; first aircrafts are dispatched to bomb, then gunners shoot and at the end infantry assaults. NDAA (Kokang) sources say, as direct bombing is not so effective, Myanmar Air Force, since sometime, first drops the bomb using the fixed-wing aircraft and “arouses suspicion” then using the modified assault helicopters at low altitudes shoots at the revealed targets one by one. Since NDAA (Kokang) basically does not have air defence capability, this sort of low level close range shooting is a big threat for them. At present Myanmar Air Force mainly uses Russian and Polish Mi-8, Mi-171, Mi-35 and PZLW-3 helicopters.

It is reported that to counter air attack tactics of Myanmar Army, NDAA (Kokang) deploys the light machine guns at high ground, it claims to “have gunned down several of Myanmar Army helicopters” using this ambush technique. Other than this NDAA (Kokang) also builds multilayered semi-underground wooden bunkers, making it difficult for Myanmar Air Force to harm them.

China to step up border surveillance for prevention and control

According to a claim on America’s “Wall Street Journal” website, following the March 13 Chinese casualties in the Myanmar airstrike, Chinese army has taken a series of precautionary measures to prevent and control such incidents at the border. On March 16, there were photos on the web of Chinese Air Force Fighter planes parked at the airports close to the border and air defence troops deployed at the border. One can see in these pictures, J-11, J-7 fighters, carrying bombs, on  patrol, “HQ-12” surface to air missile and air surveillance radar pushed forward to the Lincang territory in Yunan, bordering Myanmar. This sort of “combined land and air” surveillance is using high performance fighter crafts to patrol the border, to monitor and intercept any Myanmar Aircraft crossing the border. Meanwhile, due to the high mountains surrounding the China Myanmar border, there are many gaps in radar coverage; therefore ground and air defence coordination has been intentionally strengthened. To prevent the low altitude targets from crossing the border, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has also put PG-99 twin-barrel 35 mm rapid fire guns, they can fire up to 1100 rounds per minute, their instantaneous delivery of intense firepower is quite remarkable. As the effective range of twin-barrel 35mm anti-aircraft gun is 4000 metres, one fire unit therefore can control a substantially large airspace and it is extremely effective in intercepting rapidly penetrating low altitude targets.

 

Original

缅甸空军实力有多强?

“万国造”构成战机主力 多因素导致轰炸不准

本报赴云南特派记者 邱永峥 本报特约记者 田聿

持续多月的缅北军事冲突,令中国边民遭受“池鱼之灾”。中国外交部发言人洪磊16日在例行记者会上表示,缅甸军机炸弹造成中方人员伤亡的事实清楚,缅方已派出调查组抵达中缅边境地区,同中方开展联合调查。16日,网络上还流传中国空军在中缅边境大规模集结的照片。那么缅甸空军实力究竟如何呢?

“内战型空军”家当几何?

在长期与少数民族地方武装(民地武)的冲突中,空军是缅甸政府军最常动用的武装力量之一,甚至可以说是一支“内战空军”。据奥地利航空史专家汤姆·库柏介绍,从上世纪50年代开始,缅甸空军的主要任务和装备建设就围绕反暴乱任务展开。英国《简氏防务周刊》认为,缅甸空军现有总兵力约2.3万人,部署在全国各战略要点。驻仰光的空军司令部是缅甸空军最高指挥机构,空军司令是空军最高指挥官,一般由国防军副总参谋长兼任,司令部下辖空军直属队、雷达部队、空降兵部队等。缅甸空军受北部、南部、西部、东部和东南部等多个指挥控制中心的节制,对付民地武的航空兵部队经常使用密支那、腊戍、八莫、毛淡棉等机场。目前缅甸空军已在全国主要基地之间建立光纤通信网络,能够统一指挥战斗机、雷达、地空导弹、高炮部队,具备一定的指挥自动化能力。

缅甸空军编有5个空军基地、1个航空训练基地、1个地勤训练基地、1个维修基地,装备各型飞机300余架,其中作战飞机150余架,主要装备歼-7、强-5、PC-9、米格-29等机型,此外还有运输机14架、联络机7架、直升机66架。从上世纪90年代至今,缅甸空军从俄罗斯、乌克兰、塞尔维亚、波兰和中国进口多种固定翼军机和直升机,还在印度设立专门的采购办公室,通过印度获得俄制战机的零配件。

对地攻击为何失误连连

从装备上看,缅甸空军的总体实力逊于周边大多数国家,不足以拱卫整个国土安全,但足以对付基本没有防空能力的民地武。由于缅北交战地域多是山区,地面部队机动不便,因此缅军动用航空兵的情况非常普遍。除了利用直升机对山区据点输送补给外,缅军还频繁出动战机和直升机进行扫荡作战。

果敢同盟军人士告诉《环球时报》记者,缅甸空军战机通常使用强-5强击机和米格-29战斗机空袭果敢地区。其中低空性能较好的强-5携带常规炸弹负责轰炸,米格-29则使用航炮和火箭弹进行对地攻击。这些战机主要从腊戍基地起飞,当地已经成为缅甸空军最主要的前线机场,具备完整的弹药燃料补给和后勤维护能力。

该人士透露,缅甸空军的轰炸精度很差,这与多种因素相关。首先,缅甸空军战机原本接受的培训是攻击地面阵地和设施等固定目标,但对付灵活游击的果敢同盟军个体目标时就显得笨拙。其次,当地山高林密,战机从空中很难分辨地面目标。此外,缺乏合格的飞行员也是缅甸空军轰炸失误连连的重要原因。据称,缅甸空军中真正能完整掌握飞行作战技能的飞行员军衔普遍在少校级别以上。

据《环球时报》记者了解,缅甸政府军具备一定的空地协同能力,但总体战术显得呆板。他们发动攻击的固定套路总是先出动飞机轰炸,然后炮兵射击,最后由步兵冲锋。果敢同盟军人士透露,鉴于直接轰炸的效果欠佳,缅甸空军近来首先使用固定翼飞机投弹“打草惊蛇”,然后由改装的攻击直升机低空对暴露的个体目标射击。由于果敢同盟军基本没有防空能力,因此这种低空抵近射击威胁很大。目前缅甸空军主要使用来自俄罗斯、波兰的米-8、米-171、米-35和PZLW-3直升机。

据透露,对于缅甸政府军的空袭新战法,果敢同盟军宣称通过在高地部署多挺轻机枪设立伏击圈的方法,“已击落数架缅军直升机”。此外果敢同盟军也利用多层原木构筑半地下掩体,使缅军空投的炸弹难以伤害这种加固阵地。

中国加强边境防控警戒

美国《华尔街日报》网站宣称,3月13日缅甸军机炸弹造成中方人员伤亡后,中国军方已采取一系列边境防控警戒措施。16日,网络上还出现中国空军战斗机入驻前沿机场、防空部队加强边境部署的照片。从这些照片看,歼-11、歼-7战斗机已开始带弹巡逻,“红旗-12”地空导弹和对空警戒雷达也前推至与缅甸接壤的云南临沧境内。这种“空地结合”的警戒模式,通过高性能歼击机实施沿线战斗巡逻,监视和拦截可能越界的缅机,同时考虑到中缅边境大山环抱,雷达探测死角较多,因此特意加强地面防空力量的配合。为防范低空目标越界,解放军还在边境配属PG-99式双管35毫米速射炮,该炮射速高达每分钟1100发,瞬间形成的火力密集度非常显著。由于双35高炮有效射程达4000米,因此一个火力单元就可以控制相当大范围的空域,对拦截快速突防的低空目标极为有效。

 

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