Beijing's Getting Serious


It’s nice having an air force with lots of modern jets and Soviet-style training, provided you like having great numbers of your jets crash during peacetime or get shot down during wartime. China however is moving away from that model:


China is revising its combat pilot training program. Until recently this took ten years of academic and flight training. The new program cuts that to 5-7 years, while increasing flight hours by over 40 percent. This is more in line with Western methods, while the older system owes more to the one the Russians developed during the Cold War. The new system puts more emphasis on trainee pilots demonstrating combat flying skills before they can graduate. Cold War era Russian aircraft designs, like the MiG-21/J-7, were not designed for the heavy use required for Western style pilot training.

The new training program is actually an evolution of the need for new training methods to prepare pilots to handle the more modern aircraft. Training for pilots of these new fighters has been more intense than for any previous aircraft. In addition, China is also holding training exercises directed at fighting other modern fighters, like those flown by Taiwan, Japan, and the United States.

Tell me again why we capped F-22 production at a mere 187 planes, then shut down the lines to ensure production could never be restarted?

Join the conversation as a VIP Member