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China recruits more pilots for carrier-based fighter jets

(Global Times)    10:48, August 11, 2020

Photo: Xinhua

About 16,000 people signed up for the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's recently completed annual pilot recruitment drive, and among those who have passed the tests to become pilot cadets, nearly half will be trained to fly aircraft carrier-based fighter jets in the coming years. This is expected to satisfy China's future aircraft carrier programs.

Experts said on Monday that the ratio indicates China's ambitions in aircraft carrier development, as the country could operate three or more aircraft carriers in the near future, which need more pilots.

The PLA Navy recently wrapped up the 2020 pilot recruitment drive, during which none was infected by the novel coronavirus, thanks to nucleic acid testing and optimized procedures, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Sunday.

A large batch of talent among the 16,000 registered applicants emerged after several selections, the report said, without elaborating further on the number of applicants who were eventually enrolled in the pilot training program.

Chu Hanqiang, director of the PLA Navy Pilot Recruitment Office, was quoted as saying in the report that 49 percent of the enrolled candidates will become aircraft carrier-based fighter jet pilot cadets, and this should satisfy the development of aircraft carriers.

"In the past, most Navy Aviation Force pilot cadets were trained to fly ground-based fighter jets and bombers," Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Global Times on Monday.

The significant increase in the ratio for aircraft carrier-based fighter jet pilot cadets indicates that China will operate not only two aircraft carriers, Li said.

Forbes reported in July that China's third aircraft carrier is being assembled in a dry dock in Shanghai's Jiangnan Shipyard. Military observers expect the new aircraft carrier to be much larger and carry more aircraft than China's previous two, the Liaoning and the Shandong.

Cadets will study for four years and potentially continue to train on advanced trainer aircraft, the website of the Navy's pilot recruitment program said.

This means this batch could join active service when the third aircraft carrier is commissioned, observers said.

Li said that in addition to aircraft carrier-based fighter jets, the PLA Navy also needs more pilots for vessel-based helicopter pilots, as China recently launched two Type 075 amphibious assault ships and each has the potential to carry about 30 helicopters.

Other warships, including Type 055 and Type 052D destroyers, also host helicopters, Li noted.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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