It is not uncommon to see live fire drills at China’s top-secret Dingxin Test and Training airbase in the Gobi Desert.
The area has long been a military and weapons testing stronghold for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, hosting a fleet of aggressor fighters, as well as full-scale aerial target drones, converted from antique MIG clones.
As such, Dingxin airbase in Gansu Province is roughly analogous to Nellis Air Force Base in the United States, with a bit of Eglin Air Force Base and Edwards Air Force Base mixed in, according to a report in The Drive.
With relative seclusion, wide-open airspace, expansive training range complexes, and good weather for year-round flying operations, Dingxin is home to the country’s highest-profile fighter and attack aircraft exercises, including the annual air-to-air focused Golden Helmet and air-to-ground focused Golden Dart competitions, the report said.
Large force employment (LFE) exercises like Red Sword, roughly similar to the United States Air Force’s Red Flag, and Red and Golden Shield, which include advanced competitive training for Chinese surface-to-air missile, anti-aircraft artillery, and electronic warfare units, also occur at and near the base, the report said.
The base’s huge apron can facilitate well over 100 aircraft of all different types and does so regularly. Virtually every aircraft type in the PLAAF’s inventory has passed through the base and most do so regularly.
The pink and beige-painted aggressors, which include Su-30s and J-10s, as well as less capable types, are a staple at Dingxin Test and Training Base and provide “red air” support for the exercises and tests that occur there, the report said.
The installation’s training and tactics development activities are run by the Tactical Training Center’s 175th Air Brigade and the resident test unit that supports more cutting-edge flight test programs is the 176th Air Brigade, according to Scramble Magazine.
In recent satellite imagery, roughly 13 H-6 bombers and other variants are shown on the ramp, along with six J-10s, 5 Su-27/30/J-11 Flanker derivatives, 12 JH-7s, six F-7s, four F-8s, and three Y-9 transports.