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Mon. Dec 5th, 2022
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BEIJING: China is struggling to find enough trained pilots to operate fighter jets from aircraft carriers, prompting its navy with two aircraft carriers commissioned and another launched in June, to speed up the pilot training programme, a media report here said.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is struggling to meet increased demand for qualified shipborne fighter jet pilots to operate the specially made J-15 jets for the aircraft carriers.
The PLAN has sped up carrier-based fighter jet pilot training programmes in the decade since the commissioning of its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, but its lack of a fighter trainer specifically designed for carrier-based operations has hindered progress, according to an article published in ‘Ordnance Industry Science Technology’, a Chinese military magazine.
With Fujian, China’s third and most advanced aircraft carrier, having started sea trials last week, the PLA needed at least 200 qualified carrier-based fighter jet pilots to operate 130 ship-borne aircraft, Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie was quoted as saying on Saturday.
The Fujian is equipped with advanced electromagnetic catapults, similar to those on the US supercarrier Gerald R Ford, while China’s first two carriers featured ski-jump designs, so the navy will have to master a new aircraft launch and recovery system.
“It’s full of challenges, as aircraft design and pilot training are among the world’s most difficult and complicated core technologies — which no one will share with you,” Li said.

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