Murphy's Law: Chinas Rapidly Evolving Air Force

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February20, 2007: China announced that it plans to have an air force equipped with a about a thousand modern aircraft (J10A, Su27 and Su30 and J8F) within three years. Currently, China has about 400 Su27 and Su30 aircraft, a few dozen J10As, and not many more J8Fs (an attack aircraft). Currently, the Chinese air force is mostly some 2,000 locally built copies of Russian MiG-19s (J6) and MiG-21 (J7). There are also several hundred bombers, mostly Russian knockoffs. The Chinese announcement might have been largely for morale purposes, as actual number of Chinese aircraft are state secrets. However, thanks to the ability of Chinese to move freely throughout the country, and access to the Internet, it's possible to locate and count all the air force units in the country. That shows a current force that is still mostly MiG-21s and MiG-19s. China is buying and building a lot of the Russian Su-27s and Su-30s (the latter an upgrade of the former.) That said, it's certainly possible for the Chinese to double their force of modern fighters in the next three years. Moreover, training for the pilots of these new fighters has been more intense than for any previous aircraft. China is also holding training exercises directed at fighting other modern fighters, like those flown by Taiwan, Japan and the United States. China is not keeping much of this secret, and is apparently sending a message.

 


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