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China faces shortage of 200 qualified fighter pilots for its 130 carrier jets: Report


China, which recently launched its third aircraft carrier Fujian, is struggling to find qualified fighter pilots for its navy, the South China Morning Post reported citing experts.

The crisis was highlighted in an article published in Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Chinese military magazine.

In the article, it was argued that the lack of a purpose-built fighter trainer for carrier-based operations hampered the progress of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, despite ramping up training programs. pilot training over the past decade.

“With Fujian, China’s third and most advanced aircraft carrier, beginning sea trials last week, the PLA needed at least 200 qualified carrier-based fighter pilots to operate 130 shipboard aircraft,” said Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert. the item.

China commissioned its first indigenous aircraft carrier, the Next Generation Fujian (Type 003), in June this year. This is its first aircraft carrier to be equipped with electromagnetic catapults – a technology that only the United States has so far possessed on its USS Gerald R Ford.

While China’s first two carriers featured ski-jump designs, the new carrier’s aircraft launch and recovery system made it difficult to find a pilot well-suited to the new mechanism.

“It’s full of challenges, because aircraft design and pilot training are some of the most difficult and complicated core technologies in the world – which no one will share with you,” Li said.

The problem stems from the fact that PLA Navy pilots use the Chinese-made JL-9G, a two-seater single-engine aircraft as a carrier-trainer variant.

However, it cannot be used to simulate emergency landings on a cockpit due to flaws such as being too light and too slow, according to the report in the magazine.

These flaws confined him to land-based simulated carrier training.

“For decades, the US military has used the T-45 Goshawk carrier-qualified trainer to train its student pilots,” he said.

“Now the Americans have developed a more advanced variant, the T-7A Red Hawk, which is equipped with a more powerful General Electric F404 after burning out a turbofan engine that will make on-board fighter pilot training more efficient. “

(With agency contributions)