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  • Second Combat Brigade of PRC Air Force Likely Receives Stealth Fighter

    Something unusual appeared in a recent satellite image of an airbase in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In the image, a J-20 appears to be taxiing from the runway at Anshan Airport, a military-civilian, dual-use airport in northeastern China that is the home base of the 1st Aviation Brigade of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force
  • PLA Aerospace Primer 2nd edition in Turkish

    CASI is excited to announce the first translated version of one of its publications into Turkish.  Retired Turkish Air Force Colonel Dr. Yucel Topcu worked diligently to translate our second edition of the PLA Aerospace Primer.  We are grateful for his hard work and efforts, and pleased that he thought it was so useful that it deserved to be
  • 70 Years of the People's Liberation Army Air Force

    For those of you who have the privilege of knowing the great Ken Allen, this book will come as no surprise. For those of you who don’t know Ken personally, trust me when I say he has dedicated his life to the study of the People’s Liberation Army’s Air Force (PLAAF). In many cases, such a statement would be hyperbole, in this case it is the flat
  • Political Commissars of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force

    Knowing one’s counterparts, who they are, how they got there, and who their replacements might be, is important to both leadership and organizations alike. This report provides an overview of the political commissars of the PLA Air Force and is a companion to CASI’s report on the commanders of the PLAAF.This report provides an overview of his
  • Initial Fighter Pilot Training in the PLA Air Force

    At the beginning of the 2010s, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force’s (PLAAF’s) program for the initial training of fighter pilots had three problems. First, the program was inordinately long and gradual. Second, the PLAAF lacked an advanced trainer aircraft that was suitable for training pilots who would eventually operate an
  • Commanders of the PLA Air Force

    In the era of great power competition, it is important to understand all of the actors. Not just organizations and structure, but people as well. On 27 August 2017, Lieutenant General Ding Laihang became the 12th Commander of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force (PLAAF) since 1949. He received his third star with the rank of General in July
  • Chinese Airborne C4ISR

         As we move further into the era of 21st century great power competition, it is important to understand the many facets of that competition. This report is the next in a series of studies by the China Aerospace Studies Institute (CASI) that seeks to lay the foundation for better understanding the Aerospace Sector of the People’s Republic of
  • The Improvement of the PLA’s Close Air Support Capability

    In August 2020 the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) indicated that some of its units had made technological and procedural advancements in its capability to provide close air support (CAS). The PLA has been working to develop the systems and procedures to conduct CAS safely and effectively for more than a decade. While these and other recent
  • Air-to-Air Missiles: Capabilities and Developments In China

    “Good enough”, this is how I often describe China’s short-term ambitions. They don’t need to have a world-class / global-leader military, not yet; what they need is something that is ‘good enough’. This has implications for how China pursues its program of military modernization and its goal to increase its comprehensive national power. They don’t
  • 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."

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