When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was planning for the military parade at the founding ceremony of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in October 1949, China had 17 aircraft in total. China's late premier, Zhou Enlai, reportedly had to order the military to "fly them twice" to make the show more credible. On 1 October 2019, more than 100,000 military and civilian participants gathered at the heart of Beijing, participating in a military parade and a mass pageantry to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. This carefully choreographed event, designed for both domestic and foreign consumption, showcased more than 160 aircraft and 580 pieces of equipment.
As we move further into the era of 21st century great power competition, it is important to understand with
whom we are competing. This study is the first in a series of studies by the China Aerospace Studies Institute
that seeks to lay the foundation for better understanding the Aerospace Sector of the People’s Republic of
China (PRC). This study focuses on the major actors and institutions in the aviation portion of the PRC’s
aerospace sector. Further case studies will examine specific programs within the sector, as well as the role of
so-called ‘private’ or ‘commercial’ companies. This foundational study looks at the national-level, and the state-owned
enterprises (SOE) that make up the bulk of PRC aviation.
This study focuses on how the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is attempting to better
educate their people, promote learning, and thereby improve their combat
effectiveness, the ultimate goal of any military. While many western nations’
militaries have a long history of multi-faceted education and learning built
into their personnel systems, the PLA, like many other communist-modeled
militaries, has tended to focus on military training, vice education, limited to
an individual’s specific position at the time, and left the ‘education’ portion
to focus solely on political education in support of the Party. This appears to
be slowing changing. With the introduction of the Shuangxue, aka double
learning, model, the PLA is attempting to incorporate training and education
across different levels and specialties. Inevitably this attempt to change not
just a system, but a mindset, will have successes and failures, but it appears to
have garnered enough momentum and senior level support to persist into the
foreseeable future. This study seeks to explain the origins of Shuangxue, provide
examples and insights as to how it is being applied through the force, and set a
baseline against which the future may be judged.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to develop rapidly
across all aspects, hardware, technology, personnel, and organizational structure,
etc. The PLA’s aerospace forces are, in many ways, leading that change. These
include the PLA Air Force (PLAAF), PLA Naval Aviation, PLA Rocket Force
(PLARF), and space and cyber assets affiliated with the PLA Strategic Support
Force (PLASSF). This second edition from the China Aerospace Studies Institute
(CASI), seeks to provide a brief primer on the trends affecting these forces and
provide basic information about their composition and role today.
This study focuses on the People of the People’s Liberation Army. Without
people, there is no army, and without highly trained people, there is no modern
army. This is true not just for China, but for nations all over the world, the United
States included. U.S. military periodicals and journals often feature articles and
exposes detailing a myriad of ‘people problems’ facing the Department of Defense
today. Obesity of potential recruits, low levels of civilian unemployment, and
massive pilot shortage, are just a few of the challenges that the U.S. facing with
recruiting, training, and retaining the best and brightest for the U.S. military.
China’s Communist Party faces many of the same challenges in trying to fill and
maintain the ranks of the PLA; however, some are uniquely Chinese, and may
come as a surprise to those not familiar with certain aspects of Chinese culture.
Inter-service rivalry is an ever-present condition for militaries around the world. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is no exception to this rule. Since the end of 2015, the PLA has been undergoing massive reforms, both in strategic direction and in operational structure. The Chinese Communist Party has realized that, despite decades of investments, the PLA still has not caught up with the leading militaries of the world, although that is now an explicit goal. As part of this shift, the PLA is moving away from its traditional land defense army-centric organization toward the more ‘modern’ arms of warfare - air, blue sea, space, and cyber. As these newer, at least newer to the PLA, missions gain in importance, it is not surprising that the bureaucratic tendencies latent in any system have begun to show themselves. While the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) seems to have lost out on its bid to maintain control of PLA space issues, with the establishment of the PLA Strategic Support Force (PLASSF), it has started to make more concerted efforts to expand its presence and capabilities in the maritime domain. While both the PLAAF and the PLA Navy (PLAN) conduct aviation operations over water, the PLAAF is concerned that the rise of the PLAN’s aircraft carriers, and its attendant Naval Aviation arm, may be gaining influence and importance. As such, the PLAAF has undertaken a campaign toward increasing its relevance, capabilities, and presence, in the maritime domain. This study outlines the contours of that campaign, and its relevance to the future of both the PLAAF and PLAN Naval Aviation.
In 2016, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) began to implement its 11th large-scale reorganization, including a 300,000-man force reduction. One key component of the reorganization was the PLA Air Force's (PLAAF) shift away from its traditional Division-Regiment system to a Base-Brigade structure for its fighter and ground attack aircraft. This transition originally began in 2011 but implementation was apparently delayed soon after it began and did not restart until 2017. This paper discusses the evolution of the PLAAF's fighter and ground attack combat aircraft units and flight colleges to a brigade structure.