Thailand-China ‘Falcon Strike 2022’ air force drill kicks off today


Thailand and China’s 10-day joint military exercises “Falcon Strike 2022” kicked off in Udon Thani on Sunday.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) will hold this fifth annual drill at Udon Thani’s Wing 23 Airforce base, defence expert Chaiyasit Thantayakul said.

He added that this drill will enable RTAF to consider the role of China's airborne early warning and control aircraft system and its performance to search for targets at long distances.

“These exercises will also help PLA understand the performance of Western weaponry and training methods as Thailand mainly purchases weapons and adopt training from the West,” he added.

According to the report, the exercises will focus on air support, ground assault and force operation.

PLA will deploy six J-10C/S fighter jets, a JH-7AI fighter-bomber and a Shaanxi KJ-500 airborne early warning and control aircraft in the venture. RTAF, on the other hand, will deploy five Gripen aircraft, three Alphajet attack aircraft and a SAAB 340 AEW early warning and control aircraft.

“The joint exercise is aimed at enhancing mutual trust and friendship between the air forces of the two countries, deepening practical cooperation and promoting the continuous development of China-Thailand comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership," Beijing said.

This is the first time that China is sending a JH-7A1 fighter-bomber to the drill, a Chinese military expert said.

This exercise is one of the few large-scale joint exercises in the history of the two countries that involves complex training subjects and complete military equipment, other experts said.

Thailand and China began these military exercises with fighter jets in 2015 with the last being held in 2019, also in Udon Thani. The last two annual drills were put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.