Aircraft bearing live ammunition present largest air force show
Right on time, the first aircraft of National Day air display, Kongjing-2000 AEWC aircraft, roared down from skyline to the east of Tian'anmen Square where the emissions from tanks and missile-carrying trucks had not dispersed.
Featured with the distinctive giant radome on its back, a Kongjing-2000 was escorted by eight J-7 fighters from the PLA's Bayi (August 1) Aerobatics Team, leaving colorful smoke trails in the sky over Tian'anmen Square.
Some spectators with sharp eyesight shouted with surprise on the east reviewing stands of Tian'anmen Rostrum when they found six J-11 fighters following two AEWC aircraft mounted with air-to-air missiles under their wings.
The Air Force's vice commander Zhao Zhongxin told Xinhua earlier that all the combatant aircraft of the air fleet in the parade were loaded with live weapons.
"It is the second time for us to equip the aircraft with live ammunition during air display on National Day parade," said Lt.-Gen. Zhao who is also the air display's chief director.
On the inaugural parade when late Chairman Mao Zedong declared the founding of the People's Republic of China, the PLA's four US-made P-51 WWII fighters captured from the Kuomintang air force were fully loaded with ammos to their machine guns when they flew over the crowd.
"I suggested then general director of the parade Marshal Nie Rongzhen that at least four of the fighters on the parade must bear live ammunition to deal with possible dog fight with enemy planes," Fang Huai, a retired air force general, recalled.
The inaugural parade on October 1, 1949, was held amid occasional harassment by the Kuomintang military aircraft since the Chinese mainland was not completely liberated by the Communist Party of China.
However, missiles and bombs now are not expected to be actually used, they just showcase China's capability of air defense weaponry. Pilots on today's aerial display will not allow a single fire of their shinning missiles to ensure security of the people on the ground.
"We have disarmed all the warheads of the missiles mounted to the aircraft and reinforced all the hardpoints to prevent accidental fall-off of the missiles," said Lt.-Gen. Zhao Zhongxin.
"This is the largest air display among all 14 military parades on National Day," Zhao said. "Sixty years ago we only had 17 captured aircraft, today we showcase 151, all domestically made."
The jets that the Air Force's Bayi Aerobatics Team were using for the air display are the PLA's second-generation fighter J-7GB. It was the final show of the jets as the aerobatics team will be equipped with the third-generation J-10 fighters after the National Day parade, said Lou Guoqiang, captain of the aerobatic team.