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PLA air force seeks collaboration

Zhao Lei
Updated: Sep 24,2014 11:10 AM     China Daily

The People’s Liberation Army air force intends to strengthen communication and cooperation with foreign counterparts, a senior officer said.

“We will extend the scope and open more fields in our collaboration with other air forces so we can all stand together to face various challenges and crises and to contribute more to world peace and common development,” Colonel Shen Jinke, air force spokesman told PLA Daily on Sept 23.

Shen said air force leaders have reached a consensus with their foreign counterparts that, given the increasingly grim security situation around the globe, challenges and crises must be handled through continuous, effective international cooperation because no single country is able to deal with the situation alone.

The PLA air force has adopted a more outspoken and active attitude to reach out in the past several years, for example participating in a number of multinational drills to demonstrate the force’s combat prowess.

Shen cited the Peace Mission 2014 drill and the Aviadarts-2014 air force competition as examples, saying Chinese pilots honed their skills and enhanced ties with aviators from Russia, Kazakhstan and many other nations through these events.

In addition, the August 1st Air Demonstration Team, China’s first aerobatics flight team, gave its first overseas show in Moscow last August with the advanced J-10 jet fighters, which flew outside Chinese airspace for the first time.

The August 1st team, which recently saw the debut of its first female pilots, will take part in more overseas air shows to enhance the image of the Chinese air force, according to Shen.

“The air force will keep striving to provide more opportunities for our pilots to go outside to learn new skills and acquire expertise,” he said, adding that the air force is determined to build itself into a “study-based” air force.

Shen said new pilots of the team will present new aerobatics stunts during the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, commonly known as Airshow China, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, from Nov 11 to 16.

Xu Yongling, a former pilot and military aviation expert with the PLA, said the air force is a strategic service that plays a very important role in national security, so its commanders must align their standards to those of the best air forces in the world and stage more joint exercises with foreign militaries.

“Actually, our air force has actively involved itself in a host of multinational drills, trainings and exchange activities, gaining a lot of useful experience that has been adopted to improve the combat capabilities of our commanders and pilots,” he said.

Domestically, the PLA air force is conducting more drills with realistic scenarios and free combat.

The largest air combat competition in the PLA’s history recently ended in northwestern China after two weeks of fierce contests. A total of 170 elite aviators from 19 air brigades and regiments took part in the event, which represents the highest level of Chinese fighter jet pilots, according to the air force.

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