The People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) was established on 11 November 1949 and is under the leadership of the Military Commission of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party through the General Staff Department. The PLAAF's primary missions are to defend China 's land and air space and to support the ground troops, using its aviation, air defense, and airborne units. Secondary missions include assisting socialist construction, providing relief and rescue operations, and supporting artificial rainmaking.
The chain of command is organized into four levels -- Headquarters Air Force, Military Region Air Forces, Air Corps/Command Posts, and operational units. While the Military Region commander is responsible for combined operations, the Military Region Air Force commander is responsible for flight and air defense operations. The seven Military Region Air Forces are Shenyang , Beijing , Lanzhou , Nanjing , Guangzhou , Jinan , and Chengdu .
Headquarters Air Force is organized administratively into the Headquarters Department, Political Department, Logistics Department, and Aeronautical Engineering Department. The first three are based on the General Staff Department, General Political Department, and General Logistics Department, respectively. With the exception of the Aeronautical Engineering Department, which does not have a General Department equivalent, each echelon in the PLAAF chain of command basically mirrors the structure of the three General Departments.
The command staff at each level consists of the commander, political commissar, deputy commanders and deputy political commissars, the chief of staff, and the directors of the political, logistics and maintenance administrative elements. The chief of staff is the director of the Headquarters Department. These members also make up the Party Committee's Standing Committee at each headquarters. Although ranks were re-instituted in 1988, a person's status and retirement age is still tied to the person's Army equivalent position, not necessarily to the rank.
In order to perform its operational missions, the PLAAF is organized into five branches -- aviation, antiaircraft artillery, surface-to-air missiles, radar, and communications. The aviation branch, which includes fighters, ground attack aircraft, bombers, transports and reconnaissance aircraft, is the air force's main arm. The PLAAF also has airborne troops logistics units, research institutes, hospitals and sanitoriums. In addition, the PLAAF's political structure ensures Party control.
Naval Aviation consists of the headquarters at Liangxiang airfield near Beijing , plus units assigned to the three fleets. These units include aviation divisions and regiments, as well as radar, communications, logistics, and antiaircraft artillery troops. Naval Aviation has over 1,000 aircraft assigned.
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