It has been revealed that platoons of seamen and technicians from the People’s Liberation Army’s three theater commands were called up for an air defense and anti-missile exercise in the East China Sea last week to “extend air defense from inland to littorals and open sea for greater guarantee of national security.”

The PLA Daily reported that more than 10 corvettes randomly chosen from the naval fleet participated in exigent deployments to fend off anti-ship missiles, in preparation should hostilities break out between China and potential belligerents such as Japan or the regiments of US troops stationed there.

PLA interceptors based on existing ship-borne anti-air missiles were reportedly tested in the drill.

“If the first round of interception failed, the vessels [carrying these interceptors] must adjust [their] position in no time so as to launch another bid,” the paper said.

The 1,500-ton Meizhou of the navy’s South Sea Fleet, a Type 056 corvette fitted with the YJ-83 anti-ship missile as well as the Flying Leopard-3000N surface-to-air missile that is modeled on the HQ-10 (Red Flag-10) system, shot down an incoming anti-ship missile on the first attempt.

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A file photo shows what is believed to be a launcher of the FL-3000N missile, which is now the backbone of the PLA’s coastline shield against potential threats from neighboring countries. Photo: Wikimedia
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The main gun of the Meizhou fires at targets during last week’s exercise in the East China Sea. Photo: PLA Daily

The FL-3000N missile, usually fully automatic without the need for human intervention, utilizes a combined guidance system that incorporates both passive radio frequency and imaging infrared guidance as a fire-and-forget weapon. Developed and manufactured by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the missile’s hit range is more than 9 kilometers for subsonic targets and 6km for supersonic targets.

The Tongren of the same class with the East Sea Fleet deliberately missed the first attempt to shoot down a mock missile but destroyed the  target and decoys with an immediate follow-up launch of an interceptor rocket, according to the PLA Daily.

Earlier this month, the PLA held another drill in the Yellow Sea.