The naval aviation force under the People's Liberation Army Southern Theater Command conducted a large-scale live-fire exercise over the South China Sea earlier this week, according to the PLA Navy.
The Navy said in a statement published on Friday on its WeChat account the exercise was carried out by nearly 100 naval pilots above waters west of the southern island province of Hainan. Dozens of air-to-air missiles were launched during the operation, intended to test naval aviation units' combat, commanding and logistical support capabilities, it said.
Pictures published along with the statement showed at least two types of domestically developed combat aircraft – the J-11BH fighter jet and JH-7A fighter-bomber – were involved in the operation.
This exercise has become the first time more than 30 aviators fired a real missile, according to the statement.
The PLA has conducted a number of live-fire drills in the air and waters of the South China Sea over recent months, responding to security threats from foreign militaries.