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China and Thailand kick off joint air force drills

August 15, 2022 00:00:00

BANGKOK, Aug 14 (AFP): Thailand and China kicked off a joint air force exercise on Sunday, the kingdom's military said, the first such drills in years following a pause forced by Covid-19.

The "Falcon Strike" exercise comes after China's biggest-ever military drills around Taiwan, which were conducted in retaliation to a visit there by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Thai Air Chief Marshall Prapas Sornchaidee said "Falcon Strike", running from August 14-25 in the northeast of the country, was meant to "strengthen relations and understanding" with China.

The visiting Chinese contingent will include fighter jets, bombers and airborne early-warning (AEW) planes, the defence ministry in Beijing said last week.

It added that the drills will involve training for "air support, strikes on ground targets, and small- and large-scale troop deployment".

The Thai-Chinese air force drills were held regularly since 2015 until the pandemic hit.

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