A batch of Chinese air force personnel left for Pakistan on Monday to participate in a joint exercise to deepen practical cooperation and improve the actual-combat training level of the two sides, the Chinese military said.

The troops left for Pakistani Air Force’s airbase in Bholari at Thatta district in Sindh, northeast of Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, to participate in the drills named “Shaheen (Eagle)-IX”, a statement issued by China’s Defence Ministry said. The joint air force exercise, which will be held close to the Gujarat border is said to conclude in late December and is a project within the 2020 cooperation plan of the two militaries.

“It will promote the development of China-Pakistan military-to-military relationships, deepen practical cooperation between the two air forces, and improve the actual-combat training level of the two sides,” it said. The first such drill was held in Pakistan in March 2011. All-weather friends, China and Pakistan share close military ties. China helps Pakistan to jointly produce JF-17 fighter jets and other armaments.

The drill comes in the backdrop of the ongoing India-China border friction along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and Pakistan miserably failing to send terrorists across the Line of Control (LOC) before winters settle in.