Beijing: Bracing for a possible future showdown with US forces in Asia, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has introduced English commands in military drills to get its troops acquainted with commands of the "rival third party forces".
Pilots of the PLA Air Force on a routine training recently were caught off guard by chatter in English over their radio, the Chinese-military-run PLA Daily said in a report.
By the time they had figured out that they had to confront a third party, their field command - an early-warning plane - had already been shot down, the Daily reported.
The "third party" was a surprise scenario added to the drill to strengthen the air force's real combat response capability, the Chinese army newspaper said.
Analysts said the inclusion of an English-speaking third party in PLA drills was aimed at sending a message that the Chinese military is preparing for possible intervention by the United States if China clashes militarily with neighbouring countries over territorial disputes, the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post said in a report.
English chatter figured in the drill took place early last month.
As a battle between the PLA air force and its pseudo opponent, the "blue army", reached its climax, the PLA pilots suddenly heard in English over the radio: "Target on a radial 180.60." Followed by "Roger," the PLA Daily report said.
"Who is that? Why is there a foreign language?" some PLA pilots asked, according to the newspaper.
The shooting down of the "red army" airborne command centre in the military drill forced its air force land commander to withdraw all fighter jets and change strategy to deal with the crisis, it reported.
"The 'third party force' was another surprise scenario we provisionally added to the drill with the aim of making our training more like real combat," the daily quoted drill director Jing Jianfeng as saying.