The PLA has deployed the Lanzhou, a Type 052C guided-missile destroyer; the Yueyang, a Type 054A frigate and the Peace Ark, a Type 920 hospital ship, as well as seven aircraft and 1,160 military personnel to take part in the exercise, the largest it has ever held with a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The exercise is also the first joint wargame between China and Malaysia, the report added.
The PLA Navy will carry out joint escorts, joint searches and joint rescue drills together with the RMN during the five-day exercise which looks to strengthen the military-to-military relationship between China and Malaysia. In addition to the warships and naval personnel, air and ground forces of the PLA will take part in the drills, said to be aimed at maintaining peace and security in the Strait of Malacca by combating piracy in the region, a vital shipping route for global trade.
Without a sufficient number of amphibious assault ships in its service, the PLA Navy cannot provide sufficient supplies to ground forces engaging pirates around the Strait of Malacca by the use of helicopters alone, according to Admiral Li Jie of the PLA Navy. Eventually, cargo planes from the PLA Air Force will be needed to airdrop the supplies. This exercise provides the PLA Air Force with a good opportunity to practice its force projection capability.
Because the Strait of Malacca is very close to the disputed South China Sea region, some neighboring countries suspect there is some political motivation behind the exercise. Liang Yang, spokesperson for the PLA Navy, rejected such claims.
The People's Liberation Army Navy Type 054A Yiyang (548) multi-role frigate.