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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 aircraft in the PLAAF’s growing fleet of fourth-generation fighters. Third, despite the training program’s inordinate length, its curriculum utterly failed to prepare pilot candidates for combat. However, by the end of 2020, the PLAAF had largely resolved these problems, and its initial fighter pilot training program is poised to produce pilots who are better trained, and to do so at a higher rate, than before.

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