Air Force bri­gade aims to be­come world-class

China Daily - - CHINA - By ZHANG YANGFEI zhangyangf­ei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Air Force bri­gade is de­ter­mined to be­come a pi­o­neer­ing, world-class avi­a­tion force that is al­ways ready to fight and “sure to win”.

The bri­gade, un­der the com­mand of Se­nior Colonel Hao Jing­wen, has strength­ened joint train­ing with other types of mil­i­tary forces, con­tin­ued to raise its stan­dards and dif­fi­culty of train­ing and never stopped study­ing new tac­tics in each drill.

“Joint op­er­a­tions will be the ma­jor form of war­fare on the fu­ture bat­tle­field, par­tic­u­larly in­for­ma­tion­ized joint op­er­a­tions, which makes joint train­ing very nec­es­sary,” Hao said, re­fer­ring to the in­creas­ing use of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in war­fare.

Since its es­tab­lish­ment in 2017, the bri­gade has car­ried out drills with PLA ground forces, Navy de­stroy­ers, ground-to-air mis­sile troops and elec­tronic coun­ter­mea­sure forces to ex­plore more tac­tics with mixed re­sources.

“For ex­am­ple, af­ter ex­er­cis­ing with ground-to-air mis­sile troops, we can fig­ure out ways to avoid in­ter­cep­tion by low-al­ti­tude sur­face-to-air mis­siles, but in the mean­time they are also able to learn how to con­front air power,” Hao said. “It is a two-way learn­ing process that en­hances our over­all com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity.”

As part of its on­go­ing mil­i­tary re­forms, China has made rais­ing its ca­pa­bil­ity to win wars a fun­da­men­tal fo­cus. In re­cent years, the mil­i­tary’s day-to-day train­ing, drills and other types of ex­er­cises aim to hone ac­tual com­bat strength.

Since the begin­ning of last year, a new out­line for mil­i­tary train­ing was of­fi­cially put into use, look­ing to build a sys­tem of train­ing con­tent and re­lated mech­a­nisms more tai­lored for ac­tual com­bat and joint op­er­a­tions.

Hao’s bri­gade was one of the pi­lot bases to use the new out­line. Ma­jor Lyu Hong­peng, who is also the di­rec­tor of the bri­gade’s flight safety mon­i­tor­ing depart­ment, said he felt the in­creased in­ten­sity when he was in air com­bat train­ing.

“I’m of­ten com­pletely soaked by sweat and have a pain in my neck af­ter a flight,” he said. “I need to sus­tain ma­neu­ver­abil­ity while mak­ing swift turns, and I ei­ther feel pressed down or dragged down from the G-forces. It’s very tir­ing.”

Com­bat stan­dards have been amended to en­hance pi­lots’ skills and ex­tract more po­ten­tial from weaponry. In­stead of set­ting an op­ti­mal fir­ing dis­tance, for ex­am­ple, pi­lots now can fire at ex­treme dis­tances. The min­i­mum speed was can­celed, mean­ing pi­lots can drop their speed as slow as Lyu added.

“We dared not try slow air­speed in the past,” said Lieu­tenant Colonel Wang Deng­dong, one of the bri­gade’s deputy chiefs of staff. “But now as long as the plane is in your hands, un­der safe con­trol, you can feel free to ma­neu­ver it how­ever you want.

“I am now more skilled and con­fi­dent in op­er­at­ing the equip­ment, which can reach peak per­for­mance. I can un­der­take more chal­leng­ing mis­sions.”

How­ever, to Hao, train­ing in the face of more dif­fi­cul­ties is not enough. When com­pet­ing in a mil­i­tary con­test with a for­eign army in 2017, Hao no­ticed the weak­ness of his bri­gade’s at­tack strate­gies.

Both forces were aim­ing at the same goal — to de­stroy the tar­get — but their for­eign coun­ter­parts were us­ing a dif­fer­ent move. They hov­ered at a low al­ti­tude, pulled up rapidly, hit the tar­get and backed away im­me­di­ately.

“Their moves are of greater value in ac­tual com­bat be­cause it im­proves their sur­vival rate while hit­ting the en­emy,” he said.

Wang said that af­ter the con­test, Hao be­gan to guide all pi­lots to prac­tice those moves im­me­di­ately, try­ing their best to fly in ex­treme con­di­tions and keep their ex­po­sure to their op­po­nent’s radar as low as pos­si­ble. zero,

They ap­plied the tac­tics dur­ing the next year’s na­tional air com­pe­ti­tion of the PLA Air Force, with the new tac­tics help­ing them achieve high scores.

“We are hav­ing more ex­changes with for­eign armies as China’s Air Force grows more con­fi­dent,” Hao said. “Through these ex­changes or com­pe­ti­tions, we need to learn from their ad­vanced tac­tics, ex­pe­ri­ences and man­age­ment model.”

The bri­gade’s painstak­ing train­ing and ex­plo­ration have brought them fruit­ful re­sults. They have shoul­dered ma­jor na­tional mis­sions many times, in­clud­ing pa­trolling the Diaoyu Is­lands, mon­i­tor­ing the East China Sea air de­fense iden­ti­fi­ca­tion zone and con­duct­ing drills in the West­ern Pa­cific.

The bri­gade has also won six first prizes in big na­tional air com­bat con­tests, and its pi­lots have won the coun­try’s top awards for air com­bat ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Ten have won the Gold Hel­met award for air-toair com­bat skills and six have been crowned Gold Darts for their ground-to-air ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

“If we want to stay in the fore­front and build a first-class force, we must al­ways ad­here to first­class stan­dards and prac­tice hard and with dis­ci­pline so that we will be able to have the con­fi­dence and ca­pa­bil­ity to win in a fu­ture bat­tle­field,” Hao said.

WAN QUAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

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