While the United States has begun exercising its aircraft carriers in the Pacific in a maneuver called Valiant Shield, Russia and China are engaged in a separate exercise in the Volga-Urals called Peace Mission 2007.
The two maneuvers are separate.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources report: The Americans are testing their ability to mount intricately combined operations for a potential conflict with Iran, whereas the Russians and Chinese are preparing together to grapple with the spillover of such a conflict into Central Asia.
The Plane that Would Bomb Iran
On July 30, the pilot of an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 195 ejected safely over the sea 400 miles southeast of Guam on a training mission from the USS Kitty Hawk. The pilot and plane were quickly recovered.
The USS Kitty Hawk Group, the US Navy’s largest, which includes the carrier of that name, seven ships of Destroyer Squadron 15, two Aegis weapons-system-equipped guided-missile cruisers and CVW 5, is joining up with the USS Nimitz and USS Stennis Strike Groups Monday, Aug. 6, for the Valiant Shield Exercise, which involves more than 22,000 US military personnel, 30 ships and 280 aircraft.
They include 60 assorted fighters, bombers, air refuel tankers and cargo planes. The commander is Adm. Robert Willard, head of the US Pacific Fleet.
This year, the exercise will not invite foreign observers. According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources, this is because it will be held in conditions resembling as closely as possible those in Iran and practice assaults of the kind that may be executed against the Islamic Republic.
Willard described the realities expected to prevail in such a real-life offensive.
Valiant Shield, he said, will “include the complexities of operating three aircraft carriers in the same area while at the same time adding in the operations of another component – the fighters, bombers and tankers of the US Air Force.”
He said the exercise will not detract from the Navy’s “real world” missions in the Persian Gulf but help drill the Navy and its crews [for that real world.]
Russia and China Exercise Together
Aug. 9, three days after the Americans launch their Pacific war game, Peace Mission 2007 begins simultaneously at Chelyabinsk in the Russian Urals and Urumqi, capital of the Chinese province of Xinjiang. It is tagged as a joint anti-terrorism drill staged by the six members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It will involve 6,000 military personnel including 4,700 Russian soldiers and 36 aircraft.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources report that the exercise will practice tight military cooperation between Russian and Chinese armies, and also exhibit four totally novel military manifestations:
1. Chinese Air Force special units will enter Russian territory for the first time and operate in conjunction with Russian units.
2. Also for the first time, a Russian-Chinese-Central Asian military war game will be directed from two command centers 3,000 kilometers apart in Russia and China. They will have to coordinate troop movements in the two countries.
3. China will be operating its Air Force for the first time over foreign territory.
The formation will fly over the Altay Mountains at an altitude of 4,000 meters when it crosses the Sino-Russian frontier. China will also send 16 Mi-17 transportation helicopters and 16 Z-9 armed helicopters to Russia.
4. Another first will be the Chinese army’s use of the Russian military railway system. The main force of 1,600 troops set out with its munitions from Xinjiang on July 19, transferring at China’s Inner Mongolian border to a Russian military train for the rest of the journey.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military experts note that the Russian-Chinese exercise began in fact two weeks before the given date and that an important part of the drill has been the transfer of large military forces across vast distances.
This capability is essential should Moscow and Beijing decide on joint military action in the event of a possible American military operation against Iran spilling over into the Caspian and Central Asian regions.