21 March 2023
by Akhil Kadidal
The introduction of SAC J-11s in the China's flight academies has allowed the PLAAF to enhance the combat readiness of its graduating pilots. The aircraft in this photograph is shown taking off for a training session in eastern China's Zhejiang province in late August 2021. (Feature China/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force (PLAAF) and the PLA Navy (PLAN) are recruiting women to “strengthen the quality” of the “pilot talent pool”, state-owned media has said.
The PLAN announced in February that it will recruit female cadet pilots to fly carrier-based aircraft “for the first time in its recently launched 2023 recruiting programme”.
In a report on 20 February, the PLA's China Military Online said that “state cadets who pass the selection procedures … will have a chance to become China's first female carrier-based aircraft pilots”. According to China Military Online, the selection process will test the physical and psychological qualities of the candidates and their flying talent.
The PLAAF reported in mid-March that the first batch of five women pilots had completed their first solo flight in a Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-11B fighter trainer. According to the state-owned broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV), the women are undergoing training at the PLAAF's Xi'an Flight Academy in the PLA's Western Theatre Command.
According to CCTV, the female trainee pilots are, on average, 23 years old. The report, which published on 15 March, said that the women were required to conduct advanced manoeuvres in J-11Bs equipped with a heavy payload during their solo flight.
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China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force (PLAAF) and the PLA Navy (PLAN) are recruiting wome...