People's Liberation Army Navy - Navy Aviation Training
Pilot Recruitment and Training
Historically, Naval Aviation pilot cadets were selected only from high school graduates, but that situation began to change in 2001, when Naval Aviation began selecting personnel who already had a bachelor's degree from a PLAN academy.
The high school graduate cadets receive their bachelor's degree in one of two ways. They either attend their first two years at the PLAN's Aviation Engineering College in Yantai, Shandong Province, or at the PLAAF Aeronautics University in Changchun, Jilin Province. After they complete their basic studies, they then spend two years in flight training at Naval Aviation's only flying academy at Huludao, Liaoning Province, or one of the PLAAF's flight academies.
After completing their bachelor's degree, the new officer pilots attend about one year of transition training at the Naval Aviation base in Shanhaiguan, Hebei Province, in the North Sea Fleet.
In 2001, Naval Aviation began training its first pilots who have bachelor's degrees from one of several PLAN academies. After completing two years of basic flight training at a PLAAF flight academy in 2003, they received a second bachelor's degree and were assigned to the Naval Aviation transition training base. After completing their transition training, they entered the operational force in mid-2004
After completing their transition training, all new Naval Aviation pilots are assigned to an operational unit where they receive their initial flight training in the unit's aircraft. Following two to three years of technical training and basic tactics training, the pilots can be awarded wings as a third-grade pilot. As their training continues, they have the opportunity to become a second-grade pilot by flying in day and night using instrument flight rules (IFR), maintaining flight safety, and reaching a certain proficiency level. Next, if they have conducted combat and training missions under day and night IFR conditions, flown a certain number of hours, reached the level of instructor pilot and flight controller, and maintained flight safety, they can become a first-grade pilot. Finally, they can become a special-grade pilot if they have made special achievements in combat, training, and test flights, and maintained flight safety.
As noted above, Naval Aviation has three phases of pilot training: academy, transition, and unit training.
- Phase 1 consists of aviation basic theory and technical flight training in a basic, intermediate, and advanced trainer at a flight academy.
- Phase 2 consists of transitioning into a combat aircraft and conducting basic combat technical training at a transition training unit.
- Phase 3 consists of tactics training in the primary combat aircraft at an operational unit. Naval Aviation also conducts training for its AAA, radar, communications, chemical defense, weather, aircraft maintenance, and logistics troops.
Flying Hours and Content
China does not provide public information about how many flying hours its Naval Aviation pilots receive each year. Each regiment has two quotas it must meet during the year. The first quota is a total number of hours. The second quota is the percentage of flight time dedicated to tactics training. Naval Aviation performs about 8.5% of each quota per month and usually completes its quota in mid-December. Based on information available in PLAN writings, it appears that Naval Aviation combat aircraft pilots average around 125 hours per year. Most units normally fly only three days per week. Each training sortie for fighter and attack aircraft averages around 45 minutes. Bomber sorties are longer.
The PLAN divides the training day into three 8-hour flying periods, and most training events occur within one of those periods. To meet the goals of the new OMTE, however, Naval Aviation has experimented with certain adjustments with the length of the flying periods, time per sortie, and content per sortie. Specifically, some units have been flying what the PLAN calls "large flying periods" that cross from one flying period into another. Some units have also increased the time per sortie and incorporated more training subjects per sortie.
As a result, the total number of hours per pilot has not necessarily increased, but the number of sorties and flying periods has decreased to accomplish the same amount of training.
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