China holds first live-fire joint drills in Tibet

China holds first live-fire joint drills in Tibet

The exercises were held at an altitude above 15,420 feet (4,700 meters) and involved fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, artillery, tanks and electronic warfare units, the official People's Liberation Army Daily newspaper said.

No exact locations for the exercises or other details such as numbers of troops involved were given in keeping with usual military secrecy. Almost all the vast Tibetan plateau lies at or above 13,000 feet (4,000 meters).

The drills are part of a strategy by Beijing to upgrade training increasingly involving the firing of real ammunition and the integration of air, land and sea assets following a two decade-long process of acquiring sophisticated new equipment, much of it from Russia.

The PLA Daily report said the exercises included precision strikes on simulated enemy command posts, artillery positions and other targets. It said participants successfully overcame hardships related to the high altitude, low oxygen, and extreme cold.

"This is extremely significant in regards to exploring models for training in mountainous terrain and raising the overall level of systematised warfare," the newspaper said. Chinese Communist troops occupied Tibet shortly after the 1949 revolution that established the People's Republic and have been steadily upgrading their presence with new bases and infrastructure such as roads and airports.