The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) launched its first drill for deploying long-range air drops in civilian emergency situations on Wednesday.
The drill was designed to train and test the ability of the PLA to mobilize military and civilian aircraft to transport and air drop materials and rescue forces in emergency situations.
Involving eight heavy aircraft of the air force, Beijing Military Command and Civil Aviation Administration, the drill was the first of its kind for the army.
The Chinese military has upgraded the importance of the PLA's long-range airborne ability after the Sichuan quake when most of the overland rescue forces were stranded by rock and mud slides on the way to epicenter.
Meanwhile, the PLA's paratroops also encountered unprecedented challenges when 100 special airborne troopers tried to parachute onto land 4,999 meters above sea level (about 16,396 feet) in a mountainous area.
Only 15 of them left the aircraft and successfully reached the target area because of the complex weather conditions and the unusual jumping height. Parachutists are trained to be dropped from about 500 meters.
"Strategic transportation capacity is an important symbol of an army," Guo Boxiong, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission said, "the long-range airborne ability has been an immediate task we should follow up."
During the drill, aircraft delivered troops, vehicles, radars and other equipments over a two-hour period.
(Xinhua News Agency June 19, 2008)