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PLA Navy makes great strides as it turns 72

By ZHAO LEI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-04-23 07:18
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Students turn out to welcome the first visit by the Chinese Navy hospital ship Peace Ark at the Port of Roseau, Dominica, in October 2018. [Photo by Jiang Shan/For China Daily]

Aviation forces

The Navy's aviation forces have also grown much stronger as a lot of modern aircraft have been delivered to frontline units. The upgraded arsenal is spurring pilots and equipment operators to race against time to familiarize themselves with the advanced hardware to become operationally ready as soon as possible.

Captain Liu Zhihua, commander of an aviation regiment under the South Sea Fleet, said his unit is the first in the Navy to use a new type of domestically developed anti-submarine plane, which means that it must expend a lot of time and energy to explore the new aircraft and its tactics.

"Before the commissioning of the new fixed-wing plane, the Navy relied on surface vessels, submarines and ship-based helicopters to conduct anti-submarine warfare operations. That hardware is restricted to some extent by its speed when responding to threats from hostile submarines," Liu said.

"Over the past years, the Navy has been paying increased attention to establishing a comprehensive anti-submarine warfare system, so now we are equipped with this advanced aircraft."

Compared with most planes Liu has flown, the new aircraft has a better airframe, engine, internal arrangement and flight-control systems, making it easier for pilots to use it."It is a symbol of the power of science and technology in the military," he said.

The aircraft's deployment has extensively boosted the Navy's anti-submarine capability because the fixed-wing plane features faster speeds, higher efficiency and lower odds of being detected when it comes to searching for and attacking submarines, according to the regiment's leader.

He said his aviators often carry out training and exercises with other forces of the Navy such as surface combat and submarine units so they can have an interchange of experience, verify tactics and foster coordination and cooperation.

"Through joint drills with our submarines, we can obtain more knowledge about submarines' tactics, patterns and characteristics, and this know-how will help us improve our skills," Liu said. "Similarly, submarine commanders can improve their maneuvers in dealing with aircraft through exercises with us."

The regiment commander said during combat exercises, an advanced submarine would operate with tactics and patterns of submarine forces of the PLA Navy's potential adversaries to create realistic confrontational scenarios.

Lieutenant Commander Yu Yang, a veteran pilot of the regiment and leader of a crew team, said his team members have made full use of every training and patrol opportunity to hone their skills and explore the new plane's capabilities.

Compared with many other naval aviation units, Yu said aviators of his regiment spend less time becoming qualified to pilot the new aircraft.

"This is not because they are smarter than their peers at other units, but because we are facing a rapidly rising number of tasks that they need to undertake, so they are motivated by a shared desire to learn more as fast as possible. All of us wish to become a reliable, capable force for anti-submarine operations," he said.

According to Liu, his regiment has helped other naval aviation units train some pilots to operate the new anti-submarine plane.

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