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Bravenet.com

Brief History of the PLAAF

The article below has been composed by the information gathered from various sources, official as well as unofficial. Any information that appears outdated should be notified to me at webmaster@ironeagles.zzn.com

Development with Soviet Assistance

The Chinese communists acquired a considerable amount of equipment left behind by Chiang Kai-Sheks retreating forces and this formed the nucleus of the PLAAF (People’s Liberation Army Air Force). Soviet instructors had been operating a flying School in Manchuria since 1948 and when fighting ended in the mainland, the Air Force was recognised under the command of general Kiu Ya Lou. The PLAAF strength early in 1950, was only about 15 aircraft like the Yak-19, La-11 and P-51 backed by a small number of B-25, C-46 and C-47. Most of the captured nationalist aircraft were in poor condition, and needed urgent replacement. Under an agreement signed in Moscow in December 1949, Soviet technicians and advisors were sent to China in April 1950 with the aim of creating a modern air force along the Soviet lines. Soviet equipment was rushed to China and the entire structure of the PLAAF was upgraded and an Air Force Academy was established at Sian in Shensi. The Soviets had already started work in their reorganisation of the PLAAF when the Korean War broke out.

The build up of the Air Force received tremendous impetus because of the Korean War. Within a matter of weeks, the Soviets began delivering MiG-15 jet fighters to China and started training Chinese pilots in the USSR at Mukden. The jet force expanded rapidly and this gave the Air Force valuable experience in operation of modern jet fighters. Morale and efficiency in the PLAAF were very high following the Korean War and this was maintained in the following years with supply of MiG-17, MiG-19 and a small number of MiG-21s by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union also supplied Tu-4, Tu-2 and Il-28 bombers as well as a number of trainers.

In an effort to reduce their dependence on the Soviet Union for combat and military aircraft, the Government Aircraft Manufacturing Centre was established in 1954 which manufactured MiG-15/17, An-2, Yak-12 and Mi-4 ac (aircraft) under license. In addition a few indigenous designs were made for producing trainer aircraft.

Termination of Soviet Aid

The deepening ideological differences betweenThe indegenously developed J-8 China and the USSR resulted in termination of Soviet aid by 1960, and most serious effect of this was the reduction of the flow of technological information to China.

Once their technical ties with the Soviets had been severed, the Chinese embarked on their own aeronautical research and development programmes. Between 1953 and 1963, over 5,000 graduate aeronautical engineers were trained at the Peking Aeronautical Engineering College, and other aeronautical design teams were established by the Academy of military sciences in Beijing. Two high speed wind tunnels, purchased in East Germany were set up. An aggressive effort was made to update Chinese aeronautical technology. By the summer of 965 this was to pay handsome dividends, when China became an independent aircraft production nation. The production of MiG-21 fighters in China is a testimony of the country’s ability to produce sophisticated fighters.

Chinese arms industry has grown pretty well and now it stands as the fourth largest suppliers of arms to third world nations like Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, North Korea, Pakistan, Brazil and the Afghan guerrillas amongst others.