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People's Liberation Army Air Force

The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is the Aviation branch of the People's Liberation Army

Table of contents
1 History
2 Aircraft
3 Markings
4 External Links


The PLAAF was founded in 1949 after the establishment of the People's Republic of China. It was first established with Soviet help and was armed with Soviet aircraft. Within 6 years, the PLAAF began manufacturing its own aircraft, but these were copies of Soviet types. The first to be built was the J-4 which was a copy of the MiG-15.

Soviet involvement also extended to training the Air Force which was involved to some level in the Korean War with Chinese pilots along with Russian ones often engaging American aircraft. This increased cooperation between the two Communist nations also allowed the Chinese to begin buildng their own versions of the MiG-17 and MiG-19: the J-5 and J-6 (respectively).

The 1960s began with hardships for the PLAAF though. This was due to a break in relations with the Soviet Union, and the Chinese aircraft industry almost collapsed. The outbreak of the Vietnam War helped it to recover though as the PRC government began providing the forces of North Vietnam with J-4s and J-5s.

The 1960s also saw the beginning of indigenious Chinese design, but this was not drastic and mostly resulted in the production of the J-8. Since the Vietnam War, the PLAAF has largely consisted of what are now-obsolete Soviet planes, and as such it would not stand up well to the air force of the Republic of China which has fewer planes, but much more modern ones like the F-16 and Mirage 2000.

However, the PLAAF has begun a program of modernization. This began with the acquisition of Su-27s in the early 1990s and the continued development of various next-generation aircraft, including the JF-17 with Pakistan. The PLAAF also continues to improve its training and continues to get rid of old aircraft. This has resulted in a reduction of numbers of aircraft in the PLAAF, but an increase in the quality of these aircraft.

Currently, the PLAAF is developing its own tanker aircraft (which it has lacked) by modifying old Soviet planes such as the Tu-16 Badger (known as the H-6 in the PLAAF). The PLAAF is thus predicted to be modernized by 2010.



The markings of the PLAAF are a red star in front of a red band, it is slightly similar to the insignia of the United States Air Force. The Red star contains the Chinese characters for "August 1" which refers to the date of the formation of the PLA in 1927. PLAAF aircraft carry these markings on the fins as well.

External Links