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Command of the Air - the view of the PLAAF

  • Published
  • China Aerospace Studies Institute

     Although the 2004 white paper is the first of the PRC’s defense white papers to note what it calls “command of the air,” identified in the Chinese version as  zhikongquan (制空权), the concept for the PLAAF dates back to the 1960s.  Although the 2015 Defense White Paper, which focused on PLA strategy, did not have a single entry, the Academy of Military Science’s 2013 Science of Military Strategy has the term zhikongquan 15 times. Information from this book is located at the end of this discussion. No PLAAF sources use the terms “air superiority,” “air supremacy”, or “air dominance” to refer to itself.

     In addition, the PLAAF rarely uses the term “airpower” in reference to itself. When discussing foreign air forces, such as the USAF or Russian Air Force, the PLAAF does translate airpower from its writings as kongzhong liliang (空中力量) or kongjun shili (空军实力).

     Different Chinese military dictionaries have the English terms “air domination,” “air superiority,” and “air supremacy.”  The dictionaries are not consistent with their translation for each of these terms and mix the following three sets of Chinese characters: zhikongquan (制空权), kongzhong youshi (空中优势), and kongzhong baquan (空中霸权). It is important to keep in mind that these dictionaries translate the English terms. They are not translating the Chinese term into English. Furthermore, none of them provide a definition.

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