The Chinese Air Force: Evolving Concepts, Roles, and Capabilities
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV FORT MCNAIR DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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In my assignment as Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, I had the responsibility of monitoring air forces around the world. There is no question which country has made the greatest strides in developing its airpower capability. Over the last two decades, China s air force, the People s Liberation Army Air Force PLAAF, has transformed itself from a large, poorly-trained force operating aircraft based on 1950s Soviet designs to a leaner and meaner force flying advanced Russian and indigenously produced fourth-generation fighters. This remarkable transformation is still a work in progress, but China has made up a lot of ground in a short time. China s civilian and military leaders grasped the centrality of airpower in modern warfare as early as the mid 1970s, a lesson reinforced by the stunning success of the U.S.-led coalition during the first Gulf War. They set the goal of building the PLAAF into a world class, high-technology air force capable of prevailing against sophisticated adversaries in regional conflicts. China s expanding airpower capability has had a profound impact on the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, causing countries to reassess their own air force modernization needs.
- Military Aircraft Operations