By Yang Yi
The People's Liberation Army Air Force, the youngest service in the armed forces, celebrates its 70th birthday on Monday. Its development from a squadron of only 17 airplanes to a aerial power mastering many advanced technologies signifies China's incredible progress in military strength.
The War Against American Aggression and to Defend Korea (1950-1953) played an important role in steeling the PLA Air Force. The Chinese People's Volunteers Army at first suffered huge losses to the United States' air offensive. Apart from backward air armament and lack of professionals, China also significantly lagged in rear supply.
Yet with the help of the Soviet Union and driven by patriotism, insufficiently equipped Chinese pilots took on their counterparts from the No 1 military power, the United States, and shot down the US planes. These Chinese Air Force heroes created miracles and broke the superstition that ace pilots who fought in World War II were invincible.
The PLA Air Force effectively supported ground operations and made historical contributions to the victory of the Korean War. After the war, the PLA Air Force embarked on the path of modernization and normalization. It has shifted from mainly utilizing foreign aircraft to independent research and development, manufacturing its own planes since the 1960s.
With the improvement of China's national strength and the advancement of technologies, as well as the leadership of the Central Military Commission, the PLA Air Force has seen qualitative changes. Now it is a strong force with a complete system of services and armament.
The PLA Air Force has integrated air and aerospace forces, including air defense operations and anti-missile development. It has also taken on other tasks such as evacuating Chinese nationals from dangerous areas. It is expected to carry forward the fine tradition of going all out for the nation and its people's security. The PLA Air Force will make new achievements towards standardization and modernization and contribute more to national security.
Yang Yi is a former director general of the Institute of Strategic Studies, National Defense University PLA. This is an excerpt of his interview with China Daily’s Liu Jianna. His views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.