Chinese Air Force cargo jets ferried arms to Europe on Saturday as a reminder of China’s long reach into world affairs.
Six Y-20 cargo planes were first tracked as they entered European air space before landing in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, according to The Drive.
The report noted one highly unusual measure, perhaps reflective of the conflict in which Europe finds itself.
“Observers noted at least some of the planes had the covers for their chaff and flare countermeasures systems removed,” The Drive reported.
“It looks very much like they may have been equipped with live countermeasures, which would be anticipatory of some sort of potential threat. What that threat would have been isn’t clear,” the report said.
Interesting find by @Prova_61 👍 … In fact I have never seen before this, what appears to be the hatch removed for the chaff & flare dispenser boxes.
(Images via @铁马军戈战沙场 from Weibo) pic.twitter.com/3xBOrkMlmI
— @Rupprecht_A (@RupprechtDeino) April 9, 2022
The planes’ presence alone would have been notable, the report continued.
“The Y-20s’ appearance raised eyebrows because they flew en masse as opposed to a series of single-aircraft flights,” The Drive’s report noted. “The Y-20′s presence in Europe in any numbers is also still a fairly new development.”
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The report said that the Chinese planes were carrying HQ-22 surface-to-air missile systems that would be used by Serbia.
Serbian military analyst Aleksandar Radic said, “The Chinese carried out their demonstration of force,” according to the Associated Press.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Saturday that he will display “the newest pride” of his country’s military on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Nikola Tesla Airport 🇷🇸🇨🇳 pic.twitter.com/wVMoZCdECR
— ZOKA (@200_zoka) April 9, 2022
The Drive noted, “This large-scale sortie to deliver military equipment to Belgrade is yet another confirmation of the strategic airlift capability the PLAAF has obtained via its burgeoning Y-20 fleet, as well as an expanding operational knowledge as to how to put it to use.”
It added that “the fact that a higher-end Chinese air defense system will be operating in Europe is another issue that will likely come to the chagrin of Serbia’s neighbors.”
The AP report noted that concerns exist that Serbia could become aggressive against the tiny nation of Kosovo, which was formerly a part of Serbia.
Serbia, Russia and China don’t recognize that Kosovo is a nation. The U.S. and most of Europe do.