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  • 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. 

  • China's Aviation Industry: Lumbering Forward

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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."

  • PLA as Organization v2.0

    From June 13-14, 2012, DGI organized a conference with some of the best minds on People's Liberation Army and People's Armed Police organization issues providing their knowledge as paper writers, discussants, and conference attendees. This volume presents the outcome of that conference and includes the organizational and personnel changes that occurred in conjunction with the 18th Party Congress in November 2012. The group of authors who accepted the onerous task of delving into the minutia of the PLA’s and PAP’s organizational structure – cataloging the numerous units and their functions, knowing the difference between a zhidui and a dadui, and, most importantly, understanding the PLA’s grades and ranks structure – spent countless hours researching their respective organizations. Their hard work has culminated in the most complete and authoritative guide to the PLA as organization since the first volume was published in 2002.

  • 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.

  • The PLA’s Unmanned Aerial Systems: New Capabilities for a “New Era” of Chinese Military Power

    The People's Republic of China (PRC) is the world's largest producer of UAVs at this time and captures a vast portion of the commercial market, as well as the military one. While it is important to keep the commercial aspects in mind, this particular paper will focus on military UAVs, their development, deployments, and current and potential uses on the battlefield of today and tomorrow. The paper seeks to serve as a starting point to understand this growing field, and to give analysts a common baseline from which to work, and from which to judge growth, both rapidity and complexity, in the future. 

  • 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.

  • Understanding the "People" of the People's Liberation Army: A Study of Marriage, Family, Housing, and Benefits

    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.

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