PLA Air Force captain proposes to train more strategic transport aircraft pilots
Published: Mar 06, 2023 07:40 PM
Y-20 transport aircraft participate in a close formation taxi known as elephant walk on the runway. Photo:China Military

Y-20 transport aircraft  Photo:China Military

China should enhance pilot training for strategic transport aircraft, a deputy to the 14th National People's Congress (NPC) urged in a motion at the ongoing two sessions, at a time when such aircraft are being commissioned to the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force in large numbers, observers said on Monday.

As the PLA Air Force's only female captain that is qualified to fly both the Y-20 large transport aircraft and the Y-9 medium-sized transport aircraft, NPC deputy Chen Jinlan said that pilots in active service and academies should enhance cooperation and personnel exchanges, so personnel training can be accelerated.

She urged that outstanding co-pilots should be directly promoted to captains if they are capable.

The goal is to form a transport aircraft fleet with excellent skills and tactical capabilities that can adapt to a variety of complex combat situations and combat systems, becoming a round-the-clock, comprehensively capable force that boosts the strategic transform of the PLA Air Force, Chen said.

Transport aircraft can rapidly set out, deliver cargos and then return, as they have the advantages of a long range, fast speeds and short time requirement, meaning that strategic transport capabilities can influence the entire situation on the battlefield, Chen said.

Chen said that the fleet's main mission is military airlift, including assisting all armed services in their rapid, forward deployment of personnel and equipment under highly dangerous conditions. Transport aircraft will carry out reinforcement transport and equipment supply missions in short times, and send airborne troops, special forces and combat supplies to designated areas for fast, precision assaults.

Transport aircraft will also conduct emergency rescue missions, cross-regional deliveries and evacuation missions of overseas nationals, in addition to transporting the wounded back to safety in wartime, Chen said.

The fleet will participate in joint combat formations and maximize the combat performance of transport aircraft as platforms, the pilot captain said, citing the example that the Y-20 large transport aircraft has been developed into the YU-20 tanker aircraft, which provides aerial refueling for other aircraft.

With a large number of transport aircraft like the Y-20 and the Y-9 commissioned, the PLA Air Force has gained significant capabilities in strategic transport and strategic airdrop, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Monday.

This allows the PLA to reach more places and in a faster and more flexible manner, providing new dimensions to its strategies and tactics in combat, the expert said.

More pilots should be recruited and trained to fly those aircraft as they are continuously being produced, the expert said.