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Thread: Introductory Article on China's Air Force - China's Hidden Power

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    03 Jun 06

    Introductory Article on China's Air Force - China's Hidden Power

    For anyone who missed it, this month's edition of "Combat Aircraft" features an article on "China's Hidden Power," that provides a good introduction to the modern evolution of China's Air Force (the PLAAF):

    Considering China's astonishing rate of economic growth (and military spending authority), it's surprising that a feature article like this hadn't been published sometime before.

    I don't have access to an electronic copy of the article, although I can outline some of the article's most noteworthy elements:

    • The article provides a good historical overview of the PLAAF, from the 1960s thru the latter 1990s.

    • This includes a profile of the damage inflicted on the PLAAF during the Cultural Revolution:

    "Maintenance standards in the Chinese air force plummeted during this period, while the number of annual flight hours per pilot dropped from 122 in 1964, to fewer than 24 in 1968. Although flight hours would rebound once more during the 1970s, to this day they have yet to reach the same levels enjoyed prior to the Cultural Revolution."

    • The article also emphasizes the more recent turning point in the fortunes of the PLAAF, which began to see its budget expand during the early 1990s:

    "The PLAAF, which had once hesitated to devote a little over a quarter of a billion dollars to purchase modern avionics for a mere 55 J-8 II fighters, was suddenly authorized to devote billions to acquire hundreds of fighter aircraft from the Russian Federation. The transformation in spending authority was both swift, and profound."

    • This turning point was largely brought about by the stunning US and allied victory during the 1991 Gulf War, which brought the potential impact of air power into stark focus.

    "In the words of one US Defense Department analyst, Operation Desert Storm 'had a devastating impact on Chinese force planners,' and came as a 'deep psychological shock'."

    For anyone who is unfamiliar with the Chinese Air Force (or even for those of us who have been watching China's growth for some time now), this article should provide a good reference.

    There is also a second segment to the article due out in the next edition of Combat Aircraft, that is expected to focus on ongoing developments, including China's new J-10 fighter.

  2. #2
    Idiot Mode [ON] OFF Senior Contributor YellowFever's Avatar
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    17 Jul 06
    If their technological know-how on making airplanes is anything similar to their know-how on making Television, we have nothing to worry about...

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