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The PLAAF has 26 academies and schools (yuan xiao) to train its officers today. Most of them had their origin as numbered aviation schools (hangxiao) during the 1950s, and include preparatory schools, flying academies, PLAAF branch specialty schools, and . intermediate/advanced level academies. There are also various enlisted technical schools, including an NCO School at Dalian which was established in 1987. 

The HqAF Training Department (xunlian bu), which today is a second level administrative department under the Headquarters Department, was established as a first level department in 1949. In October 1953, this department split into two first level departments: 

- The PLAAF Military Training Department (kongjun junshi xunlian bu) was responsible for unit training 

- The PLAAF Military Schools Administrative Department (kongjun junshi xuexiao guanli bu) was responsible for education and training in the schools/academies. It changed its name to PLAAF Schools Department (kongjun junxiao bu) in 1958.

 Until January 1959, the PLAAF's schools were directly subordinate to HqAF. In January 1959, however, structuring the schools and their curriculum was HqAF's responsibility, but administration for the schools was split between HqAF and the MRAFHeadquarters. For example, HqAF was responsible for policy, mission, curriculum, organization, and plans, as well as controlling student assignments and daily training. The MRAF was responsible for local party work, daily administration, logistics, and maintenance. These responsibilities remained the same through the end of the Cultural Revolution.      

The administrative structure is different for the flying and non-flying academies (Figures 1 and 2). Flying academies have four first level departments -- Headquarters Department (siling bu), Political Department (zhengzhi bu), and Logistics Department (houqin bu), and Aircraft Maintenance Division (jiwu chu). Non-flying academies only have three first level departments -- Training Department (xunlian bu), Political Department (zhengzhi bu), and Administration Department (yuanwu bu). For schools (xuexiao), the  Administration Department is called the xiaowu bu.  


*Unless specified by the Chinese during a visit or in a printed brochure, the word xueyuan has been translated as academy and xuexiao as school.






Today, with the exception of flying academies (which actively recruit students), the rest of the PLAAF academies compete for students along with the other national colleges. One incentive for joining the military as an officer is that the education is free. High school seniors who want to attend a PLAAF academy must first list from one to three specific PLAAF academies on their preference sheet. The sheet may also contain non-military schools.


In order for them to be considered for entrance, they must pass the national college entrance examination and receive a qualifying score equal to or higher than that required by that particular academy. If their scores qualify, they are then screened by the military to see if they are physically, politically, and psychologically qualified. Once they are accepted, they receive a short period of basic military training at a training regiment before they enter the academy. Cadet training lasts for four years and they graduate with an undergraduate degree (benke) in military science (junshixue xueshi).

 If someone does not receive a high enough score to qualify for one of the three choices, they cannot attend another PLAAF academy even if their score is high enough to qualify for that academy. If they still want to join the PLAAF, they must enlist and hope to be selected from the enlisted ranks to attend an academy at a later period. 

With the exception of cadets who graduate from flying academies and the Navigation Academy, all other academy graduates must serve in a unit for one year before receiving their commission as a second lieutenant. Cadets for the Navigation Academy are selected from the enlisted ranks and from pilot academy washouts. 

In addition, each Military Region (MR) has various specialized Training Regiments (xunlian/jiaodao tuan) or Training Groups (xunlian dadui) to teach new enlisted recruits basic skills such as aircraft maintenance, driving, etc. Each training regiment determines the length of training based upon the specialty being taught. 


Plans for the PLAAF's first aviation schools took place in the early 1940s in Yanan. In September 1945, the Military Commission's Aviation Section (hangkong zu) sent a team from Yanan to northeast China to begin preparations for setting up an aviation school. On 1 March 1946, the Northeast Democratic United Army Aviation School was established at Tonghua, in southeast Jilin Province. In May, the school moved north to Mudanjiang, and the first class began in July with four basic trainers and a few type 99 advanced trainers. Due to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) harassment, the school moved north again in November to the eastern shore of Xingkai lake. However, it moved back to Mudanjiang in November 1948. This school is known as the Northeast Old Aviation School (dongbei lao hangxiao). Many of the initial instructors and ground support personnel were Japanese Air Force members who remained in China after the surrender in 1945. By July 1949, the school had trained 560 people, including 126 pilots. The rest received various ground support training. 

In August 1949, the Soviet Union agreed to help China establish six aviation schools and to sell China 434 aircraft of all types. The school at Mudanjiang was approved as the seventh shortly thereafter. By then, they had also collected 113 KMT aircraft, 1278 engines, 74000 bombs, and 2267 technicians, and had repaired 40 airfields. On 6 October, the Military Commission approved the following seven aviation schools (hangkong xuexiao/ hangxiao), and on 1 December the 1st through 6th Aviation Schools split and began classes. On 5 January 1950, the 7th Aviation School began classes.

 School                                    Location

               1st                           Harbin

               2nd                          Changchun

               3rd                          Jinzhou

               4th                           Shenyang

             5th                           Jinan

               6th                           Beijing Nanyuan

               7th                           Mudanjiang 

Initially, PLAAF students came from Army units or from civilian schools, so the PLAAF decided to give them one year of preparatory education to study politics and military affairs. In January 1950, an Aviation Preparatory (hangkong yuke) zongdui was established in Changchun to train new aircrew (kongqin) members for their first year. The first class had 1751 students. In July 1951, another Aviation Preparatory zongdui was established at Hangzhou Jianqiao airfield to train ground crew (diqin) members for their first year. The first class had 2000 students. This school later moved to Xuzhou and became the Logistics School. The Chengdu Preparatory zongdui was established in March 1950 for ground crew members. The first class had 2699 students. It was at the old KMT Air Force Armament School. Four more Preparatory zongdui were established between December 1950 and July 1951 in the Huabei MR at Zhangjiakou; in the Zhongnan MR at Hankou, Hengyang, and Xiaogan; in Hangzhou and in Xian. 

In July 1951, they were renamed as follows, and each zongdui averaged 1400-1800 cadets. 

Location                                                                          Aviation Preparatory zongdui 

Changchun                                                                                                  1st

Xian                                                                                                          2nd

Chengdu                                                                                                     4th

Jianqiao (later, moved to Xuzhou)                                                                 5th

Hangzhou                                                                                                   6th

Xiaogan                                                                                                      7th

Zharigjiakou                                                                                      Abolished

 Over the next three years, additional Preparatory zongdui changes took place, and then all of the zongdui changed their names to Aviation Preparatory Schools (hangxiao yubei xuexiao) in early 1954. 

- The Xian Communications (tongxin) zongdui, which trained communications maintenance personnel was named the 3rd Aviation Preparatory zongdui. In September 1957, the 3rd Preparatory School changed its name to the PLAAF Communications School (kongjun tongxin xuexiao).

 - In June 1953, the 8th Aviation Preparatory zongdui was established in Banding.

 - In March 1958, the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Preparatory Schools were abolished. The only remaining Preparatory Schools were the 1st and 2nd, which were responsible for basic military and political training for aircrew cadets.

 Over the next few years, additional aviation schools were established and consolidated.

 - In May 1951, the 8th Aviation School was established in Shenyang to train fighter ground crews, and all of the 4th Aviation School's fighter ground crews were moved there.

 - In August 1951, ground crews from the 1st and 2nd Bomber Schools were split and formed the 9th Aviation School in Changchun.

 - On 27 September 1951, the PLAAF Political School (kongjun zhengzhi xueriao) was established in Luoyang

 - 30 October 1951 PLAAF Rear Services School (kongjun houfang qinwu xuexiao) was established in Taiyuan

 - In 1951, the ground crews from the 3rd, 5th, and 6th Fighter Aviation Schools transferred to form the 10th Aviation School.

 - In January 1953, the 11th Flying School was established in Huxian, Shaanxi Province. It began as a normal training school, but then became a school for training flying squadron commanders and training on new and modified aircraft.

 - In February 1953, the 12th Aviation School was foamed at Linfen, Shanxi Province, to train fighter pilots.

 - In October 1954, the PLAAF Logistics School (kongjun houqin xuexiao) was established in Taiyuan, and the PLAAF Political School (kongjun zhengzhi xuexiao) was established in Luoyang.

 - On 27 August 1955, the PLAAF took over responsibility for the Beijing Weather Technical School (qixiang zhuanke xuexiao), which was renamed the PLA Weather Technical School (jiefangjun qixiang zhuanke xuexiao). The name changed later to the PLAAF Weather Academy (kongjun qixiang xueyuan)

 - In October 1956, the 14th Aviation School was established in Xinjin, Sichuan Province, to train civil aviation pilots. This school was later given to CAAC.

 - Originally, the 8th, 9th, and 10th Aviation Schools all taught the same material to all ground support personnel, but this was riot efficient, so in 1956 the 8th and 10th schools became responsible for training fighter ground support engineers (shi) in five specialties -- machinery (jixie), armament (junxie), special equipment (teshe), Radio (wuxiandian), and radar (leida). The 9th school remained the same.

 - In April 1956, the 13th Aviation School was formed using the 4th Preparatory School as a basis, to train fighter ground support technicians (yuan) in five areas -machinery, armament, instruments (yibiao), electricity (dianqi), and radio.

 - In September 1958, a Special Weapons School (tezhong wuqi xuexiao) was organized in Banding and called the 15th Aviation School (hangkong xuexiao). This school was responsible for training all services on surface-to-surface, surface-to-air, and shore-to-ship missile maintenance. In 1963, this school became primarily responsible for training SAM maintenance, construction, and commanders.

 - In September 1958, the 16th Aviation School was established in Huxian, Shaanxi Province, to train navigators, gunners, and airborn6 communicators who were previously trained with pilots at the 1st and 2nd Bomber Aviation Schools. This school later became the Navigation Academy.

 - In September 1959, the 17th Aviation School was established in Jilin to train fighter machinery technicians.

 - In April 1961, the PLAAF Health School (kongjun weisheng xuexiao) was established in ChangChun to train basic and intermediate level medical personnel.

 - In 1967, the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 13th Aviation Schools were renamed the 1 st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Aviation Maintenance Schools (hangkong jiwu xuexiao). The 1 st and 2nd Schools later became the 1st and 2nd Maintenance Technical Training Schools (hangkong jishu zhuanke xuexiao).

 - Due to the increasing number of flying hours, four new fighter pilot schools were formed in 1967 (8th and 9th Aviation Schools) and in 1968 (10th and 13th Aviation Schools). 


When the Air Defense Force (fangkongjun) and PLAAF merged in 1957, the Air Defense Force's Advanced Air Defense School (gaoji fangkong xuexiao), AAA Troop School (gaoshepao bing xuexiao), Radar School (leida xuexiao), Maintenance School (jishu xuexiao), and Air Defense School (fangkong xuexiao) became part of the PLAAF structure. In March 1958, the PLAAF. decided the following:

 - To have the Advanced Air Defense School continue training the AAA and radar battalion and above commanders

 - To abolish-the Maintenance School and transfer the training mission for AAA maintenance officers to the AAA Troop School 

- To have the AAA Troop School train AAA company and platoon commanders and maintenance officers 

- The Air Defense School and Radar Schools were merged and called the PLAAF Radar Troop School (kongjun leida bing xuexiao) with the primary mission of training radar site commanders, platoon commanders, and maintenance engineer. 


The Air Force College (kongjun xueyuan), which was based on the Nanjing PLA Military Academy's Air Force Department, was established in Beijing in September 1958. The college had the following departments (xi): 

- Basic Department (jiben xi) 

- Navigation Department (linghang xi) 

- Advanced Accelerated Department (gaoji sucheng xi) 

- Political Department (zhengzhi xi) 

- Logistics Department (houqin xi)  

The Air Force College's primary mission was to train the following officers: 

- Aviation troop regiment and battalion level commanders and staff officers 

- Group and above navigation directors (linghang zhuren) 

- Air division and above commanders and staff officers 

- Regiment and above political and logistics officers 


The PLAAF Engineering College (kongjun gongcheng xueyuan) was organized in Xian in February 1961, based upon Harbin's PLA Military Engineering Academy's Air Force Engineering Department. The college's primary responsibility was to train squadron and above maintenance officers, airfield construction officers, and weather engineering officers. The college began with. the following departments:

 - Aviation Machinery Department (hangkong jixie xi)

 - Aviation Armament Department (hangkong junxie xi)

 - Special Equipment Department (tezhong shebei xi)

 - Radio Department (wuxiandian xi)

 - Airfield Construction Department (jichang jianzhu xi)  


In March 1963, the following PLAAF schools changed their names and became responsible for training battalion and group, as well as regiment and above commanders and maintenance personnel: 



 Advanced Aviation School (gaoji hangxiao)

  -1st Advanced Technical School (diyi gaoji zhuanke xuexiao)

 Advanced Air Defense School (gaoji fangxiao)

  -2nd Advanced Technical School (dier gaoji zhuanke xuexiao)

 Weather Technical School (qixiang zhuanke xuexiao)

  -3rd Advanced Technical School (disan gaoji zhuanke xuexiao)

 15th Aviation School (di shiwu hangxiao)

  -4th Advanced Technical School (disi gaoji zhuanke xuexiao) 


By 1965, the PLAAF had made several changes so that there were 29 academies and schools:

 - PLAAF College (kongjun xueyuan)

 - PLAAF Engineering College (kongjun gongcheng xueyuan)

 - Four Advanced Technical Schools (gaoji zhuanke xuexiao)

 - Ten Aircrew Aviation Schools (kongqin hangxiao)

 - Five Ground Crew Aviation Schools (diqin hangxiao)

 - Political School (zhengzhi xuexiao)

 - Logistics School (houqin xuexiao)

 - AAA School (gaopao xuexiao)

 - Radar School (leida xuexiao)

 - Communications School (tongxin xuexiao)

 - Health School (weisheng xuexiao)

 - Two Aviation Preparatory Schools (hangkong yubei xuexiao)

 By 1965, training for aviation troop commanders was divided into three levels as follows:

 - Aircrew aviation schools trained pilots

 - Advanced aviation schools trained flying group commanders

 - The PLAAF College trained aviation troop regiment, division and above commanders

 In addition, aviation maintenance commander training was divided into two levels:

 - Ground crew aviation schools trained all ground crew engineers

 - The Engineering College trained regiment and above maintenance directors, and maintenance group commanders 


 During the worst excesses of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, several PLAAF academies/schools were closed, but some of them were revived during the 1970s. 

- In June 1969, the Weather School (qixiang xuexiao) became the Weather Academy (qixiang xueyuan)

 - In December 1973, the PLAAF Military-Political Cadre School (kongjun junzheng ganbu xuexiao) was established on the site of the old PLAAF College in Beijing. However, on 18 May 1978, the Military-Political Cadre School was abolished and the PLAAF College was reactivated

 - In January 1974, the two Aviation Preparatory Schools and the PLAAF Communications School were reactivated

 - On 15 March 1978, the PLAAF Political School was reactivated

 - On 20 March 1978, the PLAAF Logistics School was reactivated in Xuzhou

 - On 5 June 1978, the PLAAF AAA School (kongjun gaoshepao bing xuexiao) was reactivated in Guilin

 - In June 1983, the Radar School (leida xuexiao) became the Radar Academy (leida xueyuan)

 - On 3 February 1987, the PLAAF Flight Test and Training Center (kongjun feixing shiyan xunlian zhongxin) was established in Cangzhou (AKA Cangxian), Hebei Province, replacing the 11th Aviation School 

THE 1980s

In July 1986, the PLAAF made several changes, including changing the name of most of the schools (xuexiao) to academies (xueyuan) and abolishing the 9th, 10th, and 11th Aviation Schools. In addition, the Engineering College, SAM Academy, and Weather Academy were approved to give masters degrees: 



 PLAAF College (kongjun xueyuan) 

-PLAAF Command College (kongjun zhihui xueyuan)

 Political School (zhengzhi xuexiao)

  -Political Academy (zhengzhi xueyuan)

Aviation School (hangkong xuexiao)

-Flying Academy (feixing xueyuan) or Navigation Academy (linghang xuexiao)

Communications School (tongxin xuexiao)

-Communications Engineering Academy (dianxun gongcheng xueyuan)

Logistics School (houqin xuexiao)

 -Logistics Academy (qinwu xueyuan)

 AAA School (gaoshepao bing xuexiao)

 -AAA Academy (gaoshepao bing xueyuan)

 SAM Academy (dikong daodan xueyuan)

 -SAM Academy (daodan xueyuan)

 Aviation Maintenance School (hangkong jiwu xuexiao)

 -Maintenance Technical Training School (hangkong jishu zhuanke xue7~aao)

 Aviation Medicine School (kongyi xuexiao)

 -Medical School (yixue zhuanke xuexiaoVcongyizhuart)

 Aviation Preparatory School (hangkong yubei xuexiao)

 -Flying Basic School (feixing jichu xuexiao) 


Based on the changes in the 1980s, there are 26 Air Force academies and schools in 1991.


School                                                                                  City                               Province

Antiaircraft Artillery Academy                                               Guilin                              Guangxi

             (kongjun gaopao xueyuan)

Command College                                                              Beijing

             (kongjun zhihui xueyuan)

Communications Engineering Academy                               Xian                                   Shaanxi

  (kongjun dianxun gongcheng xueyuan/kongdianyuan)

 Dalian NCO School                                                          Dalian                               Liaoning

             ( kongjun dalian shiguan xuexiao)

Engineering College                                                            Xian                                   Shaanxi

              (kongjun gongcheng xueyuan/konggongyuan)

Logistics Academy                                                              Xuzhou                              Jiangsu

              (kongjun qinwu xueyuan) (formerly kongjun houqin xuexiao)

 Medical School                                                                    Jilin                                   Jilin

              (kongjun yixue xuexiao/kongyixiao)

Missile Academy                                                                 Sanyuan                             Shaanxi

              (kongjun daodan xueyuan)

Navigation Academy                                                             Huxian                             Shaanxi

              (kongjun linghang xueyuan)

Political Academy                                                                Shanghai

              (kongjun zhengzhi xueyuan/kongzhengyuan)

Radar Academy                                                                  Wuhan                                Hubei

             (kongjun leida xueyuan)                             

Weather Academy                                                              Nanjing                               Jiangsu

             (kongjun qixiang xueyuan)

 1 st (Maintenance) Tech Training School                            Xinyang                              Henan.

 (kongjun diyi hangkong jishu zhuanye xuexiao/yihangzhuan)

 2nd (Maintenance) Tech Training School                          Changchun                           Jilin

 (kongjun dier hangkong jishu zhuanye xuexiao/erhangzhuan)




First Flying Basic School                                                  Changchun                           Jilin

             (kongjun diyi feixing jichu xuexiao)

Second Flying Basic School                                              Banding                              Hebei

             (kongjun dier feixing jichu xuexiao)

First Flying Academy                                                        Harbin                               Heilongjiang

             (kongjun diyi feixing xueyuan/yi feiyuan)

Second Flying Academy                                                  Jiajiangxian                          Sichuan

             (kongjun dier feixing xueyuan/er feiyuan)

Third Flying Academy                                                      Jinzhou                               Liaoning

             (kongjun disan feixing xueyuan/san feiyuan)

Fourth Flying Academy                                                    Shijiazhuang                       Hebei

             (kongjun disi feixing xueyuan/si feiyuan)

Fifth Flying Academy                                                       Wuweixian                           Gansu

             (kongjun diwu feixing xueyuan/wu feiyuan)

Sixth Flying Academy                                                       Zhuoxian                              Hebei

             (kongjun diliu feixing xueyuan/liu feiyuan)

Seventh Flying Academy                                                 Changchun                             Jilin

             (kongjun diqi feixing xueyuan/qi feiyuan)

Eighth Flying Academy                                                    Liushuquan                            Xinjiang

             (kongjun diba feixing xueyuan/ba feiyuan)

Twelfth Flying Academy                                                  Linfen                                   Shaanxi

             (kongjun dishier feixing xueyuan/shier feiyuan)

Thirteenth Flying Academy                                             Bengbu                                  Anhui

             (kongjun dishisan feixing xueyuan/shisan feiyuan)

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