The Chinese Air Force is third largest air force in the world after United States Air Force and the Russian Air Force. This force has some 2,000 combat aircraft and 400,000 personnel approximately. It has evolved into Asia’s largest air force with time and development. Currently, the Chinese Air Force enjoys high end technology to set its foot as one of the most modern forces of the Chinese Armed Forces.
Chinese Air Force is also known as the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), the air force hopes to play a key role in case of a war with an ability to perform air strikes beyond the Chinese borders and far across the sea. The Chinese government has focused to fully support this part of the armed forces and because of this, the Chinese Air Force currently enjoys all kinds of fighter jets ranging from the first generation aircraft to the fifth generation aircraft.
HISTORY OF THE CHINESE AIR FORCE
The Chinese Air Force has not been utilized much other than one instance going back to the crisis of Taiwan Straits, way back in 1958. However, the Taiwanese counter attack was way ahead at that time. The Taiwanese air force with the use of modern U.S. built fighter aircraft had outsmarted the Chinese Air Force without much of a difficulty.
CHINESE AIR FORCE IN PRESENT
As of present, the Chinese Air Force has advanced into a modern force with modern equipment, doctrine, and capabilities. It currently operates fighter jets such as J-10, Su-30MKK, J-11, Su-27, and J-8 which will eventually form the backbone of the modern Chinese Air Force. In fact, in future the air force will be operating 5th generation fighter jets such as the new built J-20. Because of the advancement in aeronautical engineering in China, the Chinese Air Force and the Chinese aircraft have also developed simultaneously.
The Chinese Air Force now also plays a key role in developing and exporting its fighter jets to friendly countries like Iran, Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and North Korea to name a few. The modernization of the aircrafts along with developmental works in regards to intelligence services has changed the future of Chinese Air Force. China has set up air force bases all around the Chinese borders to secure the country from all sides.
The PLAAF currently continues to replace older aircraft with the next generation aircraft in order to continue to modernize itself into a reputable modern air force. At present, it continues to induct fourth generation aircrafts into its arsenal and replace the third generation of aircrafts that were inducted in numbers. China looks to have a small air force compare to before but wishes to operate a modern air force that is capable of matching any competing enemy aircraft.
The Chinese air defense also has seen acceleration in growth ever since the World War II. China has been researching on different modes of military tactics. Chinese Air Force now looks toward using space technology and stealth to be a major threat to any enemy air force.
CHINESE AIR FORCE IN FUTURE
The air force of China is the third biggest in the world and the biggest in Asia. With the kind of population resources that the country has, it could have been the major force if not for the lack of economic resources. Although China has a large fleet of air crafts, not many of them are state of the art. A massive development drive is necessary to modernize the equipment and facilities. In all the major wars that have been fought in the modern times, air force has been a major contributor towards victory all over the world. This fact emphasizes the necessity to enhance and develop air force. However, in the past two decades, the country has tied its laces and buckled its shoes in order to take up modernization and has developed at a staggering rate.
The future of PLAAF looks very strong because of the effort and drive of the Chinese to create and develop their air force resources. With the American and Russian crafts as the base, PLAAF have succeeded in developing advanced H-6K bombers and several other equipment and crafts. However, the future of air force in China largely depends as much on strategic policy making as on acquisition and development of state of the art equipment.
The future of air force focuses on active defense tactics. The strategic plans of the Chinese air force include “winning decisively” rather than conquer the enemy by volumes. The air force plans to use sharp arms and elite forces that focus on shorter and sharper forces than the voluminous ones that only base their strength on their numbers. High training is another aspect on which the future of Chinese air force is based. The second strategic plan of the force is to strike first in times of crisis, thereby making the strategy attack based rather than defense based. The third important strategy is to make the war quick since swift attacks usually beget successful results. The trick is not to give the enemy a recovery chance. The fourth major feature of the future Chinese air force is close protection. According to this strategy, the Chinese air force will be trained to stop attacks by means of alienating the attacking force from its parent organization in every possible way, including politically and economically. If this can be implemented, it will definitely be one of the most unique kinds of air counter and offensive attacks.
The weapon system of the country is in a dire need of uplifting. As per plans, the country is to acquire enough weapons, ammunitions and aircrafts to make the above mentioned strategic plans possible by 2015. The emphasis is on acquiring state of the art SAMs and fighter crafts. Scheduled for acquisition are early warning systems and more secure voice and data communication systems. The air defense mechanism also focuses on camouflage measures so as to lend enhanced protection. With all these strategic plans and acquisitions lined up, the force is definitely going to be on par with the United States within the decade.
Aerial combat crafts that are expected to reach China by 2015 are cruise missiles, ballistic missiles that are of the ground launch category and medium bombers that can carry cruise missiles. Further, aerial refueling systems form an important part of the acquisition inventory. Equipped with all these assets, China will be able to take up attacks as far away as the Pacific Ocean that borders Japan. According to experts, the success of such enormous plans will largely depend on the efficiency of training and skill of air force personnel. Keeping in mind that the last major role that the PLAAF played was in 1958 as part of the Jimmen campaign, training for air force personnel is largely lacking.
Another major aspect in which China places major emphasis is the space technology. China’s intention regarding space technology is clear, based on the massive development
taking place in the arena. As of now, China has manifested itself into the world’s most advanced aerospace and aeronautical research centers. Efforts are on to build a fleet of space soldiers as well. Developing crafts that will be able to handle tough weathers and can fly in the dark are other areas of focus of the Chinese air force.
The future of Chinese air force, the PLAAF, will be based on missiles that can cover ranges of up to 4000 km. DF-25, 26 and 27 missiles will be the benchmark for PLAAF. While the existing air force does have a healthy proportion of short range missiles, it is lacking in long range cruise and ballistic ones. Speed and maneuverability will be enhanced in the missiles in near future. PLAAF will also have a defense interceptor family, referred to as HQ-19 for air and land use. The navy version of the missiles will be called HHQ-26. Reports have been made about PLAAF working on developing electromagnetic systems such as spacecraft launchers and aircraft catapults. Weapons that will be powered by microwave and tactical lasers are also said to in line for PLAAF inclusion. Furthermore, anti-satellite and satellite combat systems, kinetic energy weapons and directed energy weapons, including particle beam weapons, will form the strength of PLAAF. These developments are expected to be ready for use by 2020.
Very high frequency (VHF) radars such as HK-JM and HK-JM2 are included in the air force fleet. Developments will take place on counter-network and counter stealth technology. The detection range of the radars will be 500 km. Owing to the development of these high powered radars, surveillance and tracking systems are expected to become more precise. China is also working on a technology that can detect crafts that do not emit radar-friendly waves.
The Chinese mantra for the future is: winning in advance. With brilliant strategic planning and development of new technologies, China will well achieve its ambition. Added to that is the fact that Chinese are not highly dependent on foreign technology. The country prefers to develop its own technology in all aspects of existence, which is a huge point in its favor. Despite being high on attack mechanisms and offence attacks, China is a major contributor to world peace, being an important member of the United Nations peace endeavors.