24 JH-7A Bombers Stationed at PLA Air Base Closest to Japan

24 PLA JH-7A fighter-bombers are currently stationed at Weifang in eastern China's Shandong province, the closest Chinese air base to Japan and the Korean peninsula, says the Kanwa Defense Review operated by Andrei Chang also known as Pinkov, a military analyst in Canada.

The air force unit based in Weifang belongs to the 14th Regiment of 5th Air Division and the fighter-bombers carrying YJ-83 anti-ship missiles would pose a threat to Japanese naval vessels should the conflict between Beijing and Tokyo over disputed islands covered by the newly established Chinese air defense identification zone escalate. The range of the C802AKD, the export and upgraded version of the YJ-83, is estimated to be more than 250 kilometers, according to Kanwa.

Pinkov noted that China and Russia are world's only two major powers still developing fighter-bombers like the Su-34 and JH-7A, as the United States and United Kingdom have not developed aircraft to succeed their Cold War-era F-111 and Tornado.

Kanwa said the PLA Air Force has 96 JH-7A fighter-bombers while the PLA Navy Air Force operates a further 96. When planes used as training aircraft are included, China has at least have 200 JH-7As in service, Pinkov said. The fighter-bombers were also flown to Urumqi in China's far northwest to take part in the Peace Mission 2013 joint exercise with the Russian Air Force earlier this year.

JH-7A planes are also likely to be deployed to the 37th Air Division in Northwestern China aimed at deterring a potential attack by NATO forces from Afghanistan. Together with the HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles located at major cities such as Xi'an and Lanzhou, the JH-7A is crucial for the PLA Air Force to defend its northwestern border against US attempts at containment as well as in the Pacific.  [via]

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