Armed Forces Overviews
China: People's Liberation Army - Air Force


Other Forces

The Air Force of the PLA was established on November 11, 1949. Until February 2016 it consisted of air command in each of the seven Military Regions of Shenyang, Beijing, Lanzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. February 2016 these were changed into five Theatre Commands, Northern, Western, Southern, Eastern and Central Command.

In the Theatre Commands the air force is controlled by separate Air Corps. This also includes the 15th Air Corps that also doubles as the new Rapid Deployment Force. Whether this Corps reports to a single Theatre Command is questionable however. .

Each Air Corps (or directly the Theatre Commands) directs Air Divisions.

Each Air division basically consists of three Flying Regiments (feixung tuan) starting at 1st, 2nd and 3rd Regiment with the 1st Air Division until 148th, 149th and 150th Regiment with the 50th Air Division. Many don't exist anymore however. Also a Division can also included additional independent Regiments.

In 2012 a major rorganization took place whre 4 Military Regions saw the appearance of 'Bases' where up to four Brigades reported two, all flying from different Air Bases. Also in 2012 dedicated Independent Regiments operating specialized roles were taken into the regular Divisions scheme. Flight training is done using CJ-6 and JL-8 aircraft in dedicated Flying Academies. High performance jet training was performed in dedicated Military Region Training Bases, but also these units were coverted to Regimnents and Brigades in 2012. Also each fighter unit has about four dual seaters.

The system above can be traced to the serial system used. Not included in the system is that each Regiment normally consists of three Flying Squadrons (feixing dadui) (or four within a Brigade), that consist of three Flights each (feixing zhongdui) and a Maritime squadron (jiwu Dadui). A bomber Flight usually consists of three aircraft, whereas a Fighter/Attack flight usually consists of four aircraft.

The PLA forces stationed in Hong Kong and Macao are under the direct leadership of the CMC. The PLA Hong Kong Garrison is mainly composed of ground, naval and air units. The PLA Macao Garrison is mainly composed of a ground force, with some naval and air force personnel on its staff.

In 2017 the effects of the new reorganization that was initiated in 2016 with the introduction of Theatre Commands and developed with many Regiments turning into Brigades was in full swing, with only bits of information slowly becoming visible.

The shown OrBat therefore is a mix of known changes and old organization, although at the same time we try to present all information that is currently publicly available! Updates are welcome though!