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September 22, 2009

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China's fliers in parade practice

AROUND 100 warplanes flying in 12 echelons roared over Beijing's Tian'anmen Square yesterday morning in a rehearsal for the parade that will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

The aircraft sent aloft comprise almost all the country's major types of warplanes, dispatched mostly by the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force.

During the National Day parade on October 1, the performing echelons will fly over Tian'anmen Square according to a strict timetable and route. They will take off from seven military airports around the capital, and the formations will be led by an airborne warning and control system aircraft.

Among the groups, the Air Force will contribute an AWACS echelon, an aerial tanker echelon, a bomber echelon and three wings of fighters.

The Navy will provide fighter-bombers and two helicopter echelons. The field army will send reconnaissance aircraft and gunships to the parade. A search-and-transport helicopter echelon will be formed jointly by the field army and the Air Force.

The parade will showcase many of the country's most advanced equipment.

The PLA now possesses most of the sophisticated weapon systems found in the arsenals of developed nations, Defense Minister Liang Guanglie said yesterday.

Many of China's systems, including the J-10 fighter jet, latest-generation tanks, navy destroyers and cruise and intercontinental ballistic missiles, match or are close to matching the capabilities of those in the West, Liang said.

"This is an extraordinary achievement that speaks to the level of our military's modernization and the huge change in our country's technological strength," he said.

Liang said he believed the National Day parade would "display the image of a mighty force, a civilized force, a victorious force."


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