Accession Number:



Training the People's Liberation Army Air Force Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) Forces

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Research Report]

Corporate Author:

RAND Corporation

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



This report analyzes key trends and themes in Chinas Peoples Liberation Army Air Force PLAAF surface-to-air missile SAM unit training. After providing background information on Chinas air defense forces, the report introduces the basics of PLAAF SAM training, including training requirements, trends in recent training activities, and analysis of training themes. To analyze training activities and provide basic quantitative indicators, we constructed a data set that includes every SAM training activity discussed within a one-year time frame from November 1, 2013, to October 31, 2014, in the PLAAFs official newspaper, Kongjun Bao hereafter abbreviated as KJB. We also draw from previous studies and data on SAM training. Based on this research, we found that PLAAF SAM units are improving their capabilities, although progress is uneven and capabilities may vary significantly between similarly equipped units. Based on data collected on PLAAF SAM training activities, the intensity of SAM training varies across Chinas former seven military regions. SAM units near the capital area and in the coastal regions appear to be most active. SAM units follow a yearly training cycle, with training peaking during the summer and early fall. Content-wise, PLAAF SAM units are engaging in more realistic and challenging combat training compared with the mid-2000s. They are moving beyond supporting PLAAF aviation training to actively participating in more complex training exercises, including countering and defeating aviation opponents engaged in sophisticated air assaults. They have increased the duration and difficulty of their training, continue to emphasize denial and deception tactics, and focus significant efforts on countering low- and extreme-low altitude targets.


Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Defense Systems

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]