Shaking the Heavens and Splitting the Earth: Chinese Air Force Employment Concepts in the 21st Century

Overview

Less than a decade ago, China's air force was an antiquated service equipped almost exclusively with weapons based on 1950s-era Soviet designs and operated by personnel with questionable training according to outdated employment concepts. Today, the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) appears to be on its way to becoming a modern, highly capable air force for the 21st century. This monograph analyzes publications of the Chinese military, previously published Western analyses of China's air force, and ...

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Overview

Less than a decade ago, China's air force was an antiquated service equipped almost exclusively with weapons based on 1950s-era Soviet designs and operated by personnel with questionable training according to outdated employment concepts. Today, the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) appears to be on its way to becoming a modern, highly capable air force for the 21st century. This monograph analyzes publications of the Chinese military, previously published Western analyses of China's air force, and information available in published sources about current and future capabilities of the PLAAF. It describes the concepts for employing forces that the PLAAF is likely to implement in the future, analyzes how those concepts might be realized in a conflict over Taiwan, assesses the implications of China implementing these concepts, and provides recommendations about actions that should be taken in response.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780833049322
  • Publisher: RAND Corporation, The
  • Publication date: 11/1/2010
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface iii

Figures xiii

Summary xv

Acknowledgments xxvii

Abbreviations xxix

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

Methodology 4

Overview of This Monograph 10

Chapter 2 The Organization of China's Air and Missile Forces 13

Peoples Liberation Army Air Force 16

PLAAF Aviation Unit Organization 20

PLAAF Ground-Based Air Defenses 21

PLAAF Radar and Communications 22

PLAAF Airborne Branch 22

Air and Missile Capabilities Controlled by Other Services 23

Second Artillery 23

People's Liberation Army Navy 24

PLA Army Air Defenses 26

PLA Army Aviation 26

Air Force Campaign Command Arrangements 27

Command Post Types 27

Command Types 29

Command and Coordination in the Campaign Planning Process 30

Command Arrangements with Other Services and Branches During Joint Campaigns 30

Chapter 3 The Evolution of Chinese Air Force Doctrine 33

History 34

Doctrine 36

Chapter 4 Chinese Concepts for the Employment of Air Forces 47

PLAAF Strategy 50

Integrated Air and Space 51

Preparing Simultaneously for the Offensive and the Defensive 53

New Uses of Airpower 54

Air, Space, Information, and Electromagnetic Superiority 56

Acquiring Air Superiority 56

Acquiring Space Superiority 60

Acquiring Information Superiority 61

Acquiring Electromagnetic Superiority 62

Three Modes of Air Combat Used to Achieve Operational or Campaign Objectives 65

Air-to-Air Operations 65

Air-to-Surface Operations 71

Surface-to-Air Operations 78

Other Types of Operations 82

Chapter 5 Air Offensive Campaigns 85

Special Characteristics of Air Offensive Campaigns 86

Air Offensive Campaign Objectives 89

Planning the Air Offensive Campaign 89

Strike Methods and Force Composition 92

Organization and Deployment of Forces in an Air Offensive Campaign 93

Deployments on the Ground and in the Air 97

Carrying Out the Campaign 97

Action One: Conduct Information Operations 98

Action Two: Penetrate Enemy Defenses 102

Action Three: Conduct Air Strikes 107

Action Four: Resist Enemy Air Counterattacks 112

Distinctive Aspects of Chinese Air Offensive Campaigns 113

Chapter 6 Air Defense Campaigns 117

General Objectives, Forms, and Methods 118

Characteristics and the "Crisis in Air Defense" 120

Trends in Air Defense Thought 124

Command Arrangements and Coordination 127

Disposition of Forces 128

Air Defense Campaign Operations 130

Resistance Operations 130

Counterattack Operations 133

Close Protection Operations 135

Defense of Cities and Bases 136

Ground (and Naval) Forces, Maneuver Corridors, and Local Superiority 137

Summing Up the Parts: What Would an Air Defense Campaign Look Like? 139

Distinctive Aspects of Chinese Air Defense Campaigns 140

Chapter 7 Air Blockade Campaigns 145

Evolution of Chinese Thinking on Air Blockade Campaigns 147

Historical Referents for Air Blockade Campaigns 150

Characteristics and Requirements 151

Organization of Forces 154

Deployment and Disposition 155

Command Arrangements and Service Coordination 156

Establishing No-Fly Zones and Aerial Surveillance Zones 157

Operations Conducted as Part of the Air Blockade Campaign 159

Information Operations 159

Flight Prohibition Operations 159

Interdicting Maritime and Ground Traffic 160

Strikes Against the Enemy Counterblockade System 160

Air Defense Operations 161

Concluding Thoughts: How an Air Blockade Campaign Might Be Implemented Against Taiwan 161

Chapter 8 Airborne Campaigns 165

Missions 167

Planning Factors 169

General Methods 170

Composition and Deployment of Forces 170

Carrying Out the Campaign 173

Seizing Information and Air Superiority 174

Carrying Out Firepower Preparation 175

Conducting Airlift 175

Transitioning to the Land Battle 176

Concluding Thoughts on Airborne Campaigns 178

Chapter 9 The Role of Other Services in Air Force Campaigns 179

Naval Air and Air Defense Employment Concepts 179

Naval Base and Naval Air Base Defense Concepts 180

Fleet Air Defense 182

Attacks on Surface Ships 183

The Second Artillery's Role in Air Campaigns 184

Chapter 10 Possible PLAAF Operational Concepts, Capabilities, and Tactics in a Taiwan Strait Conflict 187

Review of Key Chinese Strategy and Airpower Employment Concepts 188

Chinas Military Strategy 188

Key Aspects of Chinese Air Force Employment Concepts 190

Possible Air Defense Concepts and Methods 192

Procedural Deconfliction and Airspace Control 192

Objectives and General Methods 194

Hardening, Camouflage, and Other Passive Defenses 198

Assessment 201

Offensive Air Operations 202

Long-Range Theater Strikes 203

Shorter-Range Offensive Operations 209

Possible Offensive Operations Against Taiwan 209

Strike Package Tactics and Configuration 216

Moving Forward 217

Observations on China's Air Offensive Capabilities and Concepts 222

Implications for the U.S. Air Force 223

Chapter 11 Conclusions and Implications 225

Chinas Air Force Employment Concepts and Capabilities in a Conflict Over Taiwan 227

Implications for the United States 237

Implications for Taiwan 243

Bibliography 247

Index 257

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