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The Scientific Research Department (keyan bu) is the organization tasked with developing the PLAAF's weapons and equipment. At the MRAF Headquarters level, the Scientific Research Division (keyan chu) has some, but not all, of these responsibilities. The Scientific Research Department's responsibilities are as follows:

 - Establish the organization to evaluate and make the PLAAF's weapons R&D plans and programs, and report their operational requirements, as well as their tactical and technical criteria, to higher authorities.

 - Research and draft the PLAAF's weapons development technical policies, and drafts the necessary rules and regulations.

 - Examine and report the development program in conjunction with the concerned ministries.

 - Sign and monitor the development contract. The Scientific Research Department only became responsible for monitoring contracts in 1987, and now has representatives (along with those from the PLAAF Logistics Department's Procurement Department) in the factories and civilian research institutes. Previously, the Procurement Department was responsible for the acceptance tests, for monitoring the development phase, and receiving feedback from the units once the equipment was deployed; however, this has now become the Scientific Research Department's responsibility. 

- Once the contract is awarded, the Scientific Research Department coordinates on the criteria (such as system and subsystem requirements, quality control, and performance), budget, schedule, and on any technical problems that occur during the development process. The requirements are based on the operational needs set north by the PLAAF's units, by the General Staff Department's approval, .by capability of the ministries to produce such systems, and by the money available.

 - Assess penalties for contract violations. Normally, if there are any problems, there is simply consultation between the PLAAF and the ministry. However, if there is a large problem, it goes to the National Finalization Commission for arbitration.

 - Responsible for the PLAAF's research and development tests and for the test flight work.

 - Manage military use standards and measurement work.

 - Evaluate and manage imported weapons for the PLAAF.

 - Responsible for the PLAAF's portion of the national defense research and development budget and associated financial work. Until 1987, COSTIND (the Commission for Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense) was responsible for this function. The money for equipment development comes from the State and now goes directly to the PLAAF rather than to the ministries. As a result, the PLAAF can be more forceful with the ministries to make them adhere to the PLAAF's requirements. Sometimes, the PLAAF must supplement the State's money with some of its own. The PLAAF cannot simply move funds from one project to another without approval from higher authorities. 


In general terms, the PLAAF's weapons can be categorized into three types of systems: operational (zuozhan), command and control (zhihui kongzhi), and support (baozhang). 

- Operational systems are divided into air-to-air, air-to-surface, surface-to-air, and surface-to-surface types of weapons, these include aircraft, airborne weapons, surfaceto-air missiles, etc. 

- Command and control systems include ground warning command (dimian yujing zhihui), airborne warning command (kongzhong yujing zhihui), communications, and automated control handling (zidonghua kongzhi chuli). 

- Support systems include transport aircraft, refueling aircraft, reconnaissance and ECM aircraft, trainers, weapons maintenance, logistics support, etc. 


Although China operates on a five year plan, the PLAAF tried working on a three year plan, beginning in 1978. The 1st three year plan was 1978-1980, the 2nd was 1981-1983, and the 3rd was 1984-1986. However, the PLAAF made the decision in 1985 to change to a five year plan that corresponded with the State's five year plan. Therefore, the PLAAF's 1st five year plan (1986-1990) corresponded with the State's 7th five year plan.

 Weapons development is divided into medium-long term plans and annual plans. Medium-long term plans are drawn up according to the four criteria below: 

- General and specific national economic construction and national defense construction.

 - Guidance set forth by the Military Commission.  

- The national economic level and the economic and technical capability of national defense industries. 

- Domestic and international S&T and weapons development trends. 

All new programs to be placed in the medium-long term plan must have an evaluation of the combined economic and technical criteria, must have an evaluation report, must have a definite mission, and must be based on a definite medium-long term plan. The contents of the combined economic and technical evaluation includes the following: 

- An analysis of operational use requirements and tactical and technical capability. 

- Basic estimate of when the equipment is needed at the unit and how many to buy. 

- A technical analysis of the possibility of achieving the desired results. 

- An analysis of the development costs and budget and the necessary support requirements. 

- Comparison with the same type of foreign equipment in terns of current levels and the development situation. 


There are five general procedures for developing weapons. Basically, the PLAAF submits a report to the General Staff Department, COSTIND, and the Military Commission requesting a certain weapon system. If the report is approved, it is put in the medium-long term or annual plan. The PLAAF then submits a request for proposal (RFP) to the appropriate ministries and/or foreign companies. Once the program is defined, the PLAAF and the contracting ministry do a joint report to the General Staff Department and COSTIND. Design and production finalization follow this. Altogether, there are three reports and three approvals during the five phase process. 


Based on the medium-long term plan and the annual plan, the Scientific Research Department's subordinate research institutes, units, and schools conduct a theoretical evaluation of the weapon system's operational performance requirements and tactical and technical criteria. This evaluation includes an analysis of the operational mission and objectives, the basic requirements of the system's components and important equipment, and the development schedule. A report is submitted to higher authorities, and, if approved, the process moves to the next phase.


This phase consists of submitting an RFP to the appropriate contractors (zhaobiao), and selecting a contractor (xuanding yanzhi danwei) based on a national unified plan and set guidance. Once the contractor is selected, the PLAAF's research institutes) and military representatives at the production facility (jun daibiao chu) conduct a joint evaluation along with the contractor of the development program and of the development and implementation of a prototype/mockup (yangji). After the critical technology is decided, a development mission report (yanzhi renwu shu) is drafted on the basis of the development plan's feasibility. The report is submitted to higher authorities, and, if approved, the process moves to the next phase. 


Based on approval of the development mission report and the appropriate contract, the production unit is responsible.for designing the weapon, and producing and testing a prototype/mockup. Testing normally takes 12-18 months. During this phase, the military representative reviews the program in terms of development and expenditures. 


Once the engineering development phase is completed and the weapon meets the design requirements, the military conducts tests at a unit or a testing base. Based on the results of these tests, the National Finalization Commission (guojia dingxing weiyuanhui) carries out design finalization testing. If these results are acceptable, the design is finalized. The senior members of the commission are the Minister of the Ministry of Aero-Space Industry the PLAAF Deputy Commander who is responsible for equipment and R&D. There are several other members, including the responsible deputy chief of staff, members of the Ministry of Aero-Space and/or relevant ministries, and the director of the Scientific Research Department. The PLAAF members also belong to a PLAAF Aviation Commission (hangkong bing weiyuanhui), which is chaired by same deputy commander as above. The day to day administrative affairs for design finalization and the PLAAF commission are handled by the Aviation Finalization Office (hangkong dingxing bangongshi/hangdingban). 


On the basis of the design finalization, a set number of production examinations and tests are conducted. After they are completed, production finalization testing and production finalization are carried out. Production finalization is an important way for the natiorl to carry out a complete examination of a production batch, and to confirm whether or not the production batch meets the required standards. The production finalization organization then sends the necessary report to the appropriate authorities for approval. Finally, the equipment is procured and turned over to the Equipment Department within the Headquarters Department to begin supplying the units. 


In 1958, China established air-to-air missile (AAM) and surface-to-air missile (SAM) ranges (bachang). The AAM range is north of Dingxin, Gansu Province. The range is . divided into an airfield area, technical position area (jishu zhendi qu), and a test area (shiyan hang qu). The airfield area has a testing command post (shiyan zhihuisuo) and test equipment. The technical position area has over 20 buildings. In July 1970, the AAM Test Range (kongkong daodan shiyan bachang) came under PLAAF control and was later renamed the PLAAF 1st Test and Training Base (kongjun diyi shiyan xunlian jidi). 

In November 1959, the PLAAF received its first K-5 AAMs from abroad. During the first half of 1960, China copied the K-5 and called it the PL-1 (pile-1). Following extensive testing, the State Council Special Weapons Design Finalization Commission (guowuyuan tezhong wuqi dingxing weiyuanhui) approved the PL-1's design in April 1964 for series production. Range tests for the PL-2 began in June 1964, and the PL-2 entered the inventory in 1967. In April 1980, the PL-3 AAM design was approved and entered production. In July 1986, the PL-5-2 AAM design was approved. 

On 21 May 1959, the PLAAF SAM Training Base (kongjun dikong daodan budui xunlian jidi) was established, and on 1 July 1959 the PLAAF Technical Department (kongjun jishu bu) was established. 

The SAM range is located near the AAM range. In July 1970, the range also came under PLAAF control, and was later renamed the PLAAF 2nd Test and Training Base (kongjun deer shiyan xunlian jidi). 

Between October 1958 and January 1959, the PLAAF formed its first SAM unit, equipped with the Soviet SA-2. China began copying this SAM in 1959, calling it tle 11Q-1 (hongqi-1). HQ-1 testing took place between April 1963 and January 1965. In November 1964, the HQ-1 SAM design was approved and production began. The PLAAF received its first HQ-1 in April 1965. The HQ-2 (hongqi-2), which incorporated a longer range and an ECM capability, underwent testing from June 1965 to December 1966, while the first HQ-2 entered the inventory in March 1966. From the late-1960s to the mid-1970s, development and finalization testing took place for the HQ-2A (hongqi-2Jia), the HY-5 (hongying-5), and the HQ-61 (hongqi-61). In September 1984, the Military Commission and State Council decided that a SAM was a priority one task (zhongdian zhi yi.)*  

In July 1986, the PLAAF had proposed its weapons requirements for the 7th five year plan. In 1987, it had already completed its report on the plans for weapons development in the year 2000.


* The terms zhongdian zhi yi (focal point) is a key to determining which projects get emphasis in the five year plan.

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