Beijing: China will unveil a refitted model of a long-range strategic bomber next week during the massive military parade here to commemorate the victory against Japan in WWII, the state media reported today.
The aircraft, independently developed for long-distance precision strikes, was loosely based on a previous bomber model, but 90 per cent has been refitted, Bao Lianjing, leading pilot of the parade debut formation, said.
"Besides the tiller and the rudder, everything else has been upgraded," Bao was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency ahead of the military parade on September 3.
"The new aircraft requires only half the crew needed for the previous one, which means the pilots must multitask between controlling the craft, communication, air situation assessment and weapon control," the report quoted military sources as saying.
Bao said that multiple bombers will fly in a tight formation over Tian'anmen Square here on September 3, a method usually used for concealing combat plans and breaking enemy defence.
"Our pilots have flown in even tighter formations. From the ground, it looked like the wings of neighboring planes overlapped," Bao said.
Eleven foot formations, 27 armament formations, ten aircraft formations and two veteran teams will be included in the parade, which commemorates the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and World War II.
Japan has announced that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will not be attending the events in Beijing.
Abe has attempted to improve ties with China, but progress has been very slow due to Beijing's belief that Japan has not adequately atoned for its wartime activities.
The parade is expected to showcase the 2.3 million-strong People's Liberation Army's (PLA) rapidly growing capabilities at a time when Beijing is asserting territorial claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea.
The Chinese military plans to show seven types of long, intermediate and short-range missiles at the parade.
According to Chinese military officials, 84 per cent of armaments including missiles to be displayed will be new and have not been shown in public previously.
"The scale and number of the missiles will surpass any previous outing," a military official said last week.