Armed Forces Overviews
China: People's Liberation Army - Naval Aviation



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The People's Liberation Army - Naval Aviation (PLANAF) was officially established on 6 September 1952 although initial activities started already on April 23, 1949. Up to mid January 2018 it was organized into three Fleets, called Beihai, Donghai and Nanhai Fleets which are better known in English documents as North Sea Fleet, East Sea Fleet and South Sea Fleet. With the major PLA reorganizations that had started in 2017, mid January this was changed into  Northern Theater Command Navy Aviation (北部战区海军航空兵), Eastern Theater Command Navy Aviation (东部战区海军航空兵),  Southern Theater Command Navy Aviation (南部战区海军航空兵).

Within these Theatre Commands the Naval Aviation elements are composed of a grand total of ten Air Divisions (1st up to 10th). Each Division consists of up to three Regiments with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Regiment with the 1st Division up to the 28th, 29th and 30th Regiment with the 10th Division. Before 2012 the Independent Air Regiments operating special roles got subordinated to regular Divisions. The serials batches however were not changed. As of 2017, in line with the reorganization of the Air Force and the Army, also the Navy units got transformed into Brigades. Information about this however remains very scarce.

In 2012 the Naval Aviation Force started a new chapter with the introduction of the Aircraft Carrier Liaoning/16. Aircraft  operating from this carrier include J-15, Z-9 and Z-18 (AEW/AWACS). In 2018 the second carrier arrived and work is in progress for a third, more capable aircraft carrier.