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Naval Aviation (haijun hangkong bing/haihang) was established in August 1950 as a separate administrative department within the Navy Headquarters and as a separate PLA Navy operational branch (bingzhong). Naval Aviation's first flying school was founded in 1956 at Changzhi, Shanxi Province. Naval Aviation, with over 1,000 aircraft in its inventory, consists of the headquarters at Liangxiang Airfield near Beijing and units assigned to the three fleets.

 Fleet aviation (jiandui hangkong bing) includes flying divisions (feixing shi), flying regiments (feixing tuan), flying groups (feixing dadui), flying squadrons (feixing zhongdui), radar troops (leida bing), communications troops (tongxin bing), logistics troops (houqin bing), and antiaircraft artillery (gaoshepao bing) troops, and technical reconnaissance units (jizhen budui). Naval Aviation also has aircraft assigned to independent regiments (duli tuan) and groups (duli dadui).

 Naval Aviation's main tasks are to protect China's coastal air space, support the Navy fleets and the Army, protect China's ocean resources, escort fishing boats and convoys, and provide search and rescue operations. Naval Aviation also has the mission of libcr~liing islands. 


The command staff at Headquarters Naval Aviation consists of the following personnel (the commander is also a PLA Navy deputy commander): 

- Commander (vice admiral - 2 star)

- Political commissar

- Deputy commander(s)

- Chief of staff (Director, Headquarters Department)

-Director, Political Department

- Director, Logistics Department.

 Headquarters Naval Aviation also has a Party Committee (dangwei) and a Party Standing Committee (dangwei changwei). The Standing Committee consists of the members of the command staff, and the Party Committee consists of the members of the Standing Committee plus the commander and political commissar of each Fleet Naval Aviation Headquarters and directly subordinate unit (zhishu budui). 


The administrative structure for Naval Aviation and the PLAAF are similar with the exception of aircraft maintenance. While HqAF has four first level administrative departments -- Headquarters (siling bu), Political (zhengzhi bu), Logistics (houqin bu), and Aeronautical Engineering (hangkong gongcheng bu) - Headquarters Naval Aviation only has the first three. Like the PLAAF, the Headquarters Department is responsible for training, operations, intelligence, organization, equipment, etc. The Political Department is responsible for Party affairs, cultural-training, and propaganda. The Logistics Department is responsible for aircraft maintenance and logistics support. Although Naval Aviation's maintenance function has been incorporated into the Logistics Department, there is still a separate aviation maintenance (jiwu) element at the fleet and division/base level.


Unlike the PLAAF, where Military Region Air Force (MRAF) commanders are also deputy Military Region commanders, none of the three fleet Naval Aviation commanders are fleet deputy commanders. Another difference is that while the PLAAF has some Air Corps (jun/ kongjun jun) between the division and MRAF Headquarters or HqAF level, Naval Aviation does not have any Air Corps. As a result, the chain of command goes directly from Headquarters Naval Aviation (or fleet Headquarters) to the division. 


Cadets at the Changzhi and Jinxi Flying Academies (feixing xueyuan) are selected from high school students who pass the national college entrance examination and the flight school examination. Training consists of three phases (sanji peixun tizhi) -- flying academy (feixing xueyuan) training regiment (xunlian tuan), and operational. regiment (zuozhan tuan). The cadets graduate after four years with a Bachelor of Flight degree and 300 flying hours. 

After graduation from the flying academy, pilots go directly to a unit where they can be awarded wings for one of four pilot ratings. Following 2-3 years in a training regiment, the pilots can become a third grade pilot (sanji feixingyuan) if they have achieved the required technical level. Upon completion of this training, which takes 2-3 years, they are assigned.to an operational unit where they can become second grade pilots (erji feixingyuan) 

by flying in day and night IFR (zhou ye fuza qixiang), maintaining flying safety, and reaching a certain proficiency level. Next, if they have conducted combat and training missions under day and night IFR conditions, have flown a certain number of hours, have reached the level of instructor pilot and controller, and have maintained flying safety, then they can become a first grade pilot (yiji feixingyuan). Finally, they can become a special grade pilot (teji feixingyuan) if they have already been approved as a first grade pilot, have made special achievements in combat, training, and test flights, and have maintained flying safety.

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