The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) recently conducted its first “Bamboo Eagle” exercise, building on the success of the Red Flag training program while adding a new focus on multi-domain operations.
The exercise took place at the Korla Air Base in Xinjiang, China, and involved a wide range of aircraft and personnel from the PLAAF, including fighter jets, bombers, and reconnaissance aircraft. The goal of the exercise was to test the PLAAF’s ability to operate in a joint, multi-domain environment, including air, space, and cyber.
The exercise comes as the PLAAF continues to modernize and expand its capabilities, with a focus on joint operations and the integration of new technologies. As China seeks to assert itself as a global military power, exercises like “Bamboo Eagle” are vital in ensuring that its forces are well-prepared and able to operate effectively in a multi-domain environment.
The “Bamboo Eagle” exercise builds on the success of the Red Flag program, which has been a cornerstone of PLAAF training for many years. Red Flag is a series of realistic combat training exercises that bring together aircrews from allied nations to test their skills in a challenging and dynamic environment. These exercises have been instrumental in improving the PLAAF’s capabilities and readiness, and have helped to foster cooperation and interoperability with other air forces.
While Red Flag has focused primarily on air-to-air combat and air-to-ground operations, “Bamboo Eagle” adds a new dimension by incorporating multi-domain operations. This reflects the increasing importance of space and cyber capabilities in modern warfare, as well as the growing emphasis on joint operations involving multiple branches of the military.
The PLAAF’s focus on multi-domain operations is in line with broader trends in military strategy, as countries around the world seek to integrate their air, space, and cyber capabilities to gain a competitive edge in an increasingly complex and contested battlespace. China’s emphasis on joint operations and multi-domain integration is a reflection of its strategic aspirations and its determination to be a leading military power in the 21st century.
The “Bamboo Eagle” exercise involved a wide range of scenarios and missions, designed to test the PLAAF’s ability to operate in a complex and dynamic environment. This included air-to-air combat, air-to-ground strikes, reconnaissance missions, and the use of space and cyber capabilities to support and enhance these operations. The exercise also involved joint operations with other branches of the Chinese military, including the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF).
One of the key objectives of the exercise was to test the PLAAF’s ability to operate in a contested and degraded environment, where adversaries are seeking to deny or disrupt access to critical domains such as space and cyberspace. This reflects the growing importance of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategies in modern warfare, as countries seek to prevent their adversaries from gaining access to key regions and deny them the ability to operate effectively.
The “Bamboo Eagle” exercise also emphasized the importance of joint and combined operations, with a focus on integrating air, space, and cyber capabilities to achieve synergy and enhance overall military effectiveness. This reflects the PLAAF’s recognition that modern warfare is increasingly a team effort, requiring close cooperation and coordination between different branches of the military and different domains of operation.
In addition to testing the PLAAF’s ability to operate in a multi-domain environment, the “Bamboo Eagle” exercise was also a valuable opportunity to assess the performance of new aircraft, weapons, and technologies. This included the J-20 stealth fighter, which has been a significant addition to the PLAAF’s arsenal in recent years and represents a major step forward in China’s efforts to modernize its air force.
The exercise also provided an opportunity for the PLAAF to showcase its growing capabilities in space and cyber operations, which are increasingly important in modern warfare. China has made significant investments in space and cyber capabilities in recent years, and the “Bamboo Eagle” exercise was a chance to demonstrate the PLAAF’s ability to integrate these capabilities into its overall military operations.
Overall, the “Bamboo Eagle” exercise represents an important step forward for the PLAAF, as it seeks to adapt to the evolving nature of modern warfare and position itself as a leading military power in the 21st century. By focusing on multi-domain operations and joint integration, the PLAAF is working to ensure that it is well-prepared and able to operate effectively in a complex and contested battlespace.
As China continues to modernize its military and expand its capabilities, exercises like “Bamboo Eagle” will be crucial in testing and refining its readiness and effectiveness. By embracing the principles of joint operations and multi-domain integration, the PLAAF is taking an important step forward in its ongoing efforts to become a leading force in the global military landscape.