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China’s military forces conducted recent exercises aimed at shooting down incoming cruise missiles – an indication the People’s Liberation Army is preparing for a future conflict with the United States, U.S. officials said.

PLA forces in the Guangzhou military region held regimental exercises using low-altitude cruise missiles that were shot down by Chinese anti-aircraft artillery.

The PLA’s official newspaper reported last week that during the recent exercises, one unit successfully hit two cruise missiles at once using a newly developed digital anti-aircraft fire control network.

The exercises used live ammunition to better simulate battlefield conditions and to increase the “rapid response” capabilities of the units, the newspaper said.

The exercises took place in western Guangzhou province at a firing range.

In a related exercise on Dec. 6, Chinese helicopters conducted refueling operations for naval vessels in the Yellow Sea, the newspaper reported. The mid-air refueling has “filled a gap” in China’s seaborne resupply capabilities.

Meanwhile, China’s defense minister, Gen. Chi Haotian, met last week in Beijing with the commander of the Belarus Air Force, Gen. Sergey Kuzmich.

The visit has raised new concerns about missile technology sales from Belarus to China.

China in the past has purchased Maz missile transporter-erectors from Minsk that are believed to be part of China’s new long-range road mobile missile systems, the DF-31 and DF-41.

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