Navy pilot recruitment campaign enters new stage, ensures aircraft carrier capabilities

By Liu Xuanzun Source:Global Times Published: 2019/12/25 18:18:40

China's second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, is commissioned into the People's Liberation Army Navy at a naval base in Sanya, in South China's Hainan Province, on December 17, 2019. Photo:

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's 2020 pilot recruitment campaign has moved into a new stage, as more pilot cadets are needed to master carrier-based fighter jets following the commissioning of the country's second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, experts said on Wednesday.

Starting in mid-December of 2019 and scheduled to conclude in early April of 2020, the comprehensive examination phase of the annual recruitment campaign uses five facilities in different locations across China, the PLA Navy announced on its Sina Weibo account on Tuesday. This phase is aimed to test registered students from 22 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in terms of their physical and psychological condition, and political education.

Students aged between 16 and 19 who are about to graduate or have graduated from high schools were eligible to sign up for the program from October to November.

Following the commissioning of China's second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, and the construction of a third one, the Navy's need of carrier-based fighter jet pilots is becoming an urgent matter, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

More public reports on the second carrier and the rapid development of the Chinese Navy highlighted by the grand fleet review in April could motivate more students to become naval pilots, so the military expert speculated that more students may apply in this year's recruitment campaign.

The PLA Navy did not disclose how many students have signed up for the 2020 recruitment campaign. The figure was 4,500 in 2019 and 2,600 in 2018, according to the website of the recruitment campaign. 


This year's comprehensive examination will stress examining participants' dynamic and contrast visual acuity, vestibular function, cervical muscle group function and spinal structure, Navy Today, a WeChat news account affiliated with the PLA Navy, reported on Tuesday.

A new selection mechanism will also be adopted, in which experts will interview the students and evaluate if their psychological conditions are suitable to become aircraft carrier-based fighter jet pilots, according to the report.

These evaluations are especially important for the recruitment of future carrier-based pilots, and each year the examination will potentially become more optimized in its selection processes thanks to previous experiences, the expert said.

After the comprehensive examination phase and the national college entrance examinations, a final test will take place in Beijing in June. Those who pass the entire selection procedure will be enrolled into the Naval Aviation University of the PLA for a four-year study program and get the opportunity to eventually fly the J-15 carrier-based fighter jet, according to the Navy.

The Navy is also training experienced pilots from carrier-borne aircraft units and advanced fighter jet units. They began studying warship combat and command in moves to create more capable commanding officers for aircraft carriers, the PLA Daily reported earlier this month.

Experts said the military's combat capability is decided by the combination of weaponry and operators, and China will ensure it has well-trained, talented operators that match its rapidly developing military equipment.

Newspaper headline: Navy pilot recruitment campaign ensures carrier capabilities


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