UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!



On 26 July 1950, the PLAAF's Airborne Troops (kongjiang bing) began when the Military Commission established the PLAAF 1st Marine Brigade (luzhan diyi lu) in Shanghai, using the Third Field Army's 9th bingtuan's 30th Army's (jun) 89th Division as a basis. On 1 August, the brigade's Headquarters moved to Kaifeng, Henan Province, and Kaifeng and Zhengzhou, Henan Province, were designated as the brigade's training bases. This brigade eventually became an airborne division (kongjiang bing shi). Thereafter, the unit's designation changed several times, becoming the Air Force Marine 1st Division (kongjun luzhan diyi shi), the Paratroops Division (sanbing shi), then the Airborne Division (kongjiang bing shi). In May 1961, the Military Commission changed the Army's 15th Army (15 jun), which had fought during the Korean War, into the PLAAF 15th Airborne Army (kongjun kongjiang bing di 15 jun), and subordinated the PLAAF's original airborne division to this new Army.               

 The Airborne Troops have various special units (tezhong fendui), including weapons controllers (yindao), reconnaissance (zhencha), infantry (bu bing), artillery (pao bing), communications (tongxin bing), engineering (gong bing), chemical defense (fanghua bing), and transportation (qiche bing) soldiers. Today, the Airborne Troops have three brigades, which are further divided into battalions lying) and companies (lian).


Brigade                              City                    Province                 Military Region                                         Function


43rd                                Kaifeng                      Henan                        Jinan                                                        Combat


44th                                Yingshan                     Hubei                       Guangzhou                                              Training


45th                                Huangpi                      hubei                        Guangzhou                                              Combat


In October 1964, an aviation transport regiment was created to support the Airborne Troops. In December.1969, the first helicopter regiment was assigned to the airborne troops, and the number of personnel and equipment increased. In 1975, the airborne troops underwent a reduction in force, yet new types of weapons were introduced.

 Paratroopers are recruited throughout China by special recruiting teams from the 44th Brigade. The new recruits are between the ages of 18-20. Most have at least a junior middle school education, but high school graduates are the goal. Recruits enlist for a minimum of four years, and may stay for up to six years. If they want to stay after six years, they must be selected as "leaders." Officers report for training at the brigade after having completed training at a military academy.

 The Airborne Troops conduct training throughout China. For example, from JulyAugust 1988, an airborne unit conducted training in the Kunlun Mountains and the QinghaiTibetan Plateau at 3000-5000 meters. The training consisted of paradrops, reconnaissance, harassing attacks, taking and keeping strong points, and testing Chinese-produced parachutes. 


The 15th Airborne Army's command staff consists of the following personnel:

 - Commander

- Political commissar

- Deputy commanders)

- Deputy political commissars)

- Chief of staff (Director, Headquarters Department)

- Director, Political Department .

- Director, Logistics Departments 

These members also make up the Party Standing Committee (dangwei changwei). The Party Committee (dangwei) consists of the Standing Committee plus the commander and political commissar from each of the three brigades. 

The command staff for each combat brigade consists of the following personnel: 

- Commander

- Political commissar

- Deputy commander

- Chief of staff (Director, Headquarters Department)

- Director, Political Department

- Director, Logistics Division

- Director, Maintenance Division 

Like the 15th Airborne Army, the Party Standing Committee at each brigade also consists of the command staff, and the Party Committee consists of the Standing Committee plus the commander and political instructor of each subordinate battalion. 




Although there are separate radar, communications, and air defense (AAA and SAM) administrative departments within the Headquarters Department at HqAF, there are no separate aviation or airborne departments. Like the aviation troops, however, the Operations Department (zuozhan bu) is responsible for administrative matters concerning the airborne troop operations. In addition, the Training Department (junxun bu) has an Airborne Division (kongjiang bing chu), which is responsible for airborne training matters. There are also other departments, such as the Equipment Department, which take care of their particular requirements for the airborne troops. 

Administratively, the 15th Airborne Army has a Headquarters Department (siling bu), Political Department (zhengzhi bu), and Logistics Department (houqin bu) (Figure 1). At the brigade level, there is a HeadquartersDepartment, Political Department, Logistics Division (houqin chu), and Maintenance Division (jishu chu) (Figure 2)        

Operational Structure

Operationally, the 15th Airborne Army works closely with other PLAAF branches For example, during the 1979 border conflict with Vietnam, three of the 15th Airborne Army's light artillery battalions were subordinated to the PLAAF'S 19th AAA Division's 55th Regiment at Ningming.

 The Airborne Troops have also been used for internal purposes. For example, they were used in Wuhan during the Cultural Revolution. In addition, they were also used as a spearhead during the military crackdown on demonstrators in Tiananmen in June 1989.




Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list