First PLA navy-trained pilots complete night mission in S.China Sea

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/23 20:58:39

The People's Liberation Army's (PLA) first batch of navy-trained pilots have successfully completed night missions over the South China Sea in a new type of fighter, a step forward in preparing the naval aviation force in all-weather combat conditions in the region.

Independently trained by the PLA South China Sea Fleet, the pilots underwent multiple night flight mission training, including solo flights, multi-fighter coordination, target search and strikes over the South China Sea, Central China Television (CCTV) reported on Wednesday. All training missions were accomplished in one operation, it said.

The CCTV report quoted Cui Meng, head of one of the fleet's aviation brigades, as saying that "the night flights are crucial for pilots to prepare for all-weather operation."

Cui also said that "the training simulated actual combat conditions and took full advantage of the South China Sea line, a complicated battle environment."

Compared with daytime flight missions, night missions are more challenging because of the lack of reference points, and nighttime lighting conditions can be confusing, Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the Rocket Force, told the Global Times.

The broad South China Sea line features a bigger combat radius, so choosing such a training location showcases the navy's real-world combat mentality, he said.

The PLA navy needs to train its own pilots. It is based on the needs of naval missions, which likely include ship-based flight missions. For example, China's aircraft carriers will need more carrier-based pilots, which require different skills rather  than training from a base, Song added.

Posted in: MILITARY

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