PLA to train pilots faster with new programs as part of increased combat aircraft production capacity

A J-20 fighter jet pilot assigned to a PLA air base makes contact with the control tower in the cockpit after landing safely on the runway during an air combat training exercise involving multi-type fighter jets on May 17, 2022. (eng.chinamil by Yang Jun)

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force and Naval Aviation have recently made further progress in their new pilot recruitment and training programs as China expands its fleet of pilots. warplanes with record warplane production capacity, analysts said on Sunday that the PLA will ensure it has enough trained personnel to fly its state-of-the-art machines.

In a landmark move marking the creation of the PLA Air Force’s all-new personnel training program, the first batch of student pilots trained on J-10s – a fourth-generation fighter aircraft type developed in China – recently graduated from Shijiazhuang Flight Academy and was sent to the frontline combat forces, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Saturday.

In 2020, Shijiazhuang Flight Academy received delivery of J-10 fighter jets for the first time and began testing with this new training program. While it takes four to six years of flight training for a student pilot to become qualified to fly a fourth-generation fighter under the old training program, the new program takes only three years. , which significantly shortens the time it takes to train a student pilot to become a combat-ready pilot, CCTV reported.

With an average age of 23, this first group of student pilots for the new program was selected from student pilots who trained with the CJ-6 basic trainer aircraft at the Aviation University of Air. Strength. After completing training on the JL-10 advanced trainer aircraft, they transitioned to J-10 training in July last year and underwent high-level realistic training, including simulated combat air air-to-air against instructors and simulated air-to-ground combat against PLA army air defense troops, according to the CCTV report.

“This group of student pilots will become an important force in air combat, which has key importance in promoting the Air Force’s strategic transformation and fulfilling its duties and missions in the new era,” Xie Hao, a brigade commander at Shijiazhuang Flight Academy, told CCTV.

The PLA Navy also recently concluded its annual carrier-based student pilot recruitment program, according to a video posted by the PLA Navy’s official Weibo account on Friday.

“Of the newly recruited student pilots, 41.5 percent are qualified to learn to fly carrier-based fighter aircraft. This is enough to meet the training demand for carrier-based fighter aircraft personnel,” said Chu Hanqiang, chief pilot of the PLA Navy. recruiting office, said in the video.

Other on-board student pilots should learn to fly other types of aircraft, including on-board early warning planes, transport planes or on-board helicopters, observers said. They noted that with the launch of China’s third aircraft carrier, the Fujianwhich is also the first aircraft carrier in the country equipped with electromagnetic catapults, the PLA Navy not only needs more pilots, but also pilots for more types of aircraft.

The latest progress in new pilot recruitment and training programs by the PLA Air Force and Naval Aviation Force came at a time when China saw an increase in its warplane production capacity in 2021.

Two major fighter aircraft manufacturers in the PLA, the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation which builds the J-15 carrier-based fighter and the J-16 multirole fighter as well as the Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group Co Ltd which builds the J-20 stealth fighter and the J-10 fighter jet, both broke records for aircraft deliveries last year, according to official press releases at the time.

Combat ability is generated by a combination of Operators, Weapons, and Equipment, so having just one is not enough. This is why personnel training, weapons and equipment development must take place in tandem, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday.