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People's Liberation Army Air Force Operations Over Water: Maintaining Relevance in China's Changing Security Environment

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RAND Corporation Santa Monica United States

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As Chinas national interests grow globally and the Chinese government seeks to enforce its territorial claims in Asia, the Peoples Liberation Army PLA is increasingly called upon to secure and protect these interests. Overwhelmingly, these interests either reside in or rely on the maritime domain. The PLA Air Force PLAAF since its inception has focused its efforts on territorial defense with only limited concern for issues beyond Chinas mainland. Beginning in 2014, Chinese President and Commander-in-Chief Xi Jinping has led calls for the PLAAF to support PLA efforts to defend Chinas maritime interests and strengthen its over-water capabilities toward this goal. These efforts are part of a broader effort to prepare for military struggle, particularly in the maritime domain, in part by shaping the security environment to win without fighting. The PLAAFs current modernization initiatives supporting this move include developing long-distance maritime power projection, improving strategic conventional deterrence, and building maritime strike capabilities.

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Technical Report




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Approved For Public Release;

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