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  • Command of the Air - the view of the PLAAF

         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
  • China’s Air Force Wraps Up Large Force Exercise- Likely “Red Sword 2020”

    Starting in June 2020, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) appears to have held a large force exercise in and around the Gobi Desert area in northwest China. This exercise seems involved multiple branches of the PLAAF, including PLAAF aviation, mobile radar, and surface-to-air missile (SAM) units. Based on our understanding of
  • China’s Air Force Preparing for Contingencies in the Skies Over Ladakh

         Although current clashes along the Line of Actual Control between India and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are contained to hand-to-hand fighting as of mid-June 2020, the death of several dozen soldiers on 15 June reveals the potential for the skirmish to escalate in scale. As Indian and PRC soldiers continue to clash along the border,
  • Understanding Shuangxue: The PLAAF's Learning Organization Initiative

    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.

  • PLA Aerospace Power: A Primer on Trends in China's Military Air, Space, and Missile Forces

    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.

  • Selling a Maritime Air Force: The PLAAF's Campaign for a Bigger Maritime Role

    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.

  • Brigadization of the PLA Air Force

    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. 

  • PLA Air Force's Four "Key Training Brands"

    The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force's (PLAAF) desire to advance its strategic transformation through qualitative changes is evidenced by its development of what it calls the "four key training brands". These include:  the Golden Helmet military competition; the Golden Dart military competition; the Blue Shield exercise, which includes the Golden Shield competition; and the Red Sword exercise. This report provides an overview of these annual training events, which are described by the PLAAF as its "four main actual-combat oriented training series."