"The PLA Air Force brought 50 types of weapons and equipment to the 14th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, or Airshow China. Compared with previous airshows, this year's exhibiting equipment emphasizes on the fields of information confrontation, situational awareness, unmanned combat, and comprehensive support, demonstrating the phased achievements of the modern strategic air force construction," military expert Wang Mingzhi said in an interview on the features of the PLA Air Force's exhibits at the 14th Airshow China.
Q: YU-20 debuted at the 14th Airshow China and conducted a flight demonstration. What achievements of the PLA Air Force does this reflect?
A: The YU-20 is a new generation of aerial refueling equipment in China, which can effectively enhance the long-range maneuverability of the aviation force and undertake the same air delivery tasks as the Y-20. The YU-20 improves the PLA Air Force's maneuverability, attack and defense, and force projection capabilities of long range.
Previously, the YU-20 had carried out aerial refueling training at sea with J-20, J-16, J-10C and other fighter jets many times. In the Taiwan Strait, the J-20 and YU-20 flew together, enhancing the troops’ capability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity. In today's flight demonstration, it performed air maneuvers such as serpentine maneuver, dragging and passing, and hose recovery, fully demonstrating the excellent actual combat capability of a new-generation domestic large-scale tanker aircraft.
Q: In the ground exhibition area, the PLA Air Force added a section for "unmanned and anti-unmanned operations". Different types of UAVs such as GJ-2, WZ-7, and WZ-8 are displayed together. Among them, the GJ-2 performed the first flight demonstration. What’s the significance?
A: The rise of unmanned combat forces is an important feature of the warfare in the direction of intelligent military development. This airshow demonstrated the pace of the PLA Air Force's unmanned and intelligent development. During the military training and preparation for the new era, the UAV units of the PLA Air Force have deeply integrated into the actual combat training system. It fully demonstrates that the PLA Air Force has made significant progress in applying advanced combat methods and accelerating the improvement of the systematic combat capability.
Q: J-20, J-16 and other fighter jets carried out flight demonstrations to display the achievements in actual combat military training. What’s that?
A: Aerobatics performances are technically difficult and risky compared with conventional tactical maneuvers. At present, only China, the US and Russia can use self-developed third-generation aircraft for flight performances, and the performers are all excellent pilots selected from the combat troops. When circling at the maximum angular velocity and passing through the field at a high speed, the pilot needs to continuously bear an overload of about 6G. This is a great test of the pilot's anti-G capability. The seemingly cool and exciting performances all stem from the need for air combat.
Q: The "20 series" including the J-20, Y-20, and YU-20 are all displayed to the public at the airshow. What aspects of the construction achievements of the PLA Air Force does this reflect?
A: The PLA Air Force, in accordance with the strategic goal of "building integrated air and space capability and having balanced strength in defensive and offensive operations", has developed high-tech weapons and equipment systematically, and put into training a series of new fighter jets in the new era. As General Chang Dingqiu, commander of the PLA Air Force, said at the opening ceremony that, 10 years ago, the PLA Air Force could only exhibit J-10, JH-7A and other several types of aircraft. However, the PLA Air Force has 50 types of new equipment including the J-20, Y-20 and YU-20 and systems of air to air, air to ground, unmanned, delivery, airborne, and air defense. After ten years of hard work, the PLA Air Force has historically stridden over the threshold to become a strategic air force.