PLA Air Force accelerates pilot cadet training with advanced trainer jets

(Global Times) 08:35, August 16, 2021

A JL-10 fighter trainer aircraft attached to a regiment under the PLA Naval Aviation University taxies on the flightline in preparation to take off for a live-fire flight training course near the Bohai Bay area in late April, 2020. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Xu Yinglong)

The first group of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) fighter jet pilot cadets who trained with advanced trainer jets immediately after training with basic trainer aircraft have graduated from pilot school, highlighting an innovative training approach that can accelerate combat capability generation, analysts said on Sunday.

After wrapping up the study of flying with basic trainer aircraft in July 2020, a group of pilot cadets at the PLA Air Force Shijiazhuang Flight Academy skipped the training sessions with intermediate trainer jets and immediately started learning primary-level fighter jet control with the advanced trainer jets, the PLA Daily reported on Saturday.

As the first-ever pilot cadets in the PLA to receive this new course, they will join frontline combat units after their graduation in late June and fly fourth-generation fighter jets, which include aircraft like the J-10, the J-11 and the J-16, according to the report.

The PLA has a complete pilot cadet training system featuring the CJ-6 basic trainer aircraft, the JL-8 intermediate trainer jet and the JL-9 fighter trainer, and the pilot cadets used to learn to fly in that order before flying genuine fighters, a Chinese military expert told the Global Times on Sunday, requesting anonymity.

Now that the PLA has adopted the newly developed advanced trainer jet, the JL-10, which features many advanced technologies and resembles more to a genuine fighter with outstanding performances, it has partially replaced the JL-9 fighter trainer and now even the JL-8 intermediate trainer jet, the expert said.

This also means that, after learning on the JL-10, the pilot cadets will find it easier to master genuine fourth-generation fighters, or even fifth-generation ones like the J-20, the expert said.

The first PLA pilot cadets trained on the JL-10 advanced trainer jets graduated only last year, also from the Shijiazhuang Flight Academy, the China Central Television reported at that time. It is understood that this group of pilot cadets still trained with intermediate trainer jets in between their training with basic trainer aircraft and advanced trainer jets.

Under the premise that pilot cadets would reach the same level as when trained with the traditional approach, this year's new approach allowed pilot cadets to learn about 30 percent faster, and they got on average 30 percent more time to fly with advanced trainer jets, the PLA Daily reported, noting that training subjects included flying in tactical formation, nighttime flight, air combat and ground attack with a wide variety of weapons.

Since the training with intermediate trainer jets was skipped, some pilot cadets experienced a slower learning curve and unstable mental status, so the academy optimized the training procedures by including more training simulations and giving more personalized guiding analyses and evaluations, which ended up working well, the report revealed.

This exploratory practice means China now has an innovative and revolutionary approach to train pilot cadets, and this will push forward the link-up between academies and combat units, accelerating the latter's combat capability generation, the PLA Daily said.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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