Here Is Your Chance to Fly a Fighter Jet from a New Aircraft Carrier

May 7, 2019 Topic: Security Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: ChinaMilitaryTechnologyWorldPLANAircraft Carrier

Here Is Your Chance to Fly a Fighter Jet from a New Aircraft Carrier

If you are in China, that is. 

Then there is the pitch that navy recruiters have used since time immemorial: a chance to see the world. “As an international service, naval aviators have many opportunities to participate in overseas visits, ocean escorting missions, and joint military exercises. Through these opportunities, they can broaden their horizons and exchange experiences with the world’s finest pilots.”

If you want to fly jets off an aircraft carrier, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) wants to talk with you.

(This first appeared late last year.)

China has just launched its 2019 pilot recruitment campaign, and the focus is on finding cadets who can handle the demanding task of operating from a floating airfield.

“Four recruitment groups will be successively dispatched to 23 provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions nationwide to test and select pilot cadets,” according to the Chinese military announcement.

Interestingly, the announcement suggests that China is concerned about how to reorient its pilot training system from learning to fly land-based aircraft to producing carrier-qualified pilots.

“Through shifting from ‘shore-based’ to ‘carrier-based’ standards, the PLA Navy aims to build a pilot recruitment system ‘with Chinese naval characteristics that can adapt to carrier-borne requirements,’” according to the China.mil news release.

 

The PLAN wants high school graduates ages 16 to 19, who will receive flight and college education similar to the four-year course that People’s Liberation Army Air Force—China’s land-based air arm—pilots receive.

“Navy pilot cadets will mainly receive basic undergraduate preparation and flight training during their school years. At the end of the fourth year, qualifying students will obtain a bachelor’s degree in Engineering,” the Chinese military said. “They will also be appointed as deputy company commanders and awarded the military rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. Cadets who complete the training of advanced jet trainer and obtain the qualification certificate will be awarded a second degree (Bachelor of Military Sciences). Moreover, they will have the chance to be promoted to company commanders in advance.”

China’s military has different traditions and practices than America’s. But when it comes to tempting young people into becoming carrier pilots, the lures are the same. First, there is the aura of joining an elite. “Some of the pilot cadets recruited this year will receive the top and most systematic training as carrier-borne aircraft pilots,” said a PLAN official. “As a highlight of this year’s recruitment, cadets selected according to carrier-borne aircraft pilot standards will have the opportunity to fly J-15 fighter jets.”

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Then there is the pitch that navy recruiters have used since time immemorial: a chance to see the world. “As an international service, naval aviators have many opportunities to participate in overseas visits, ocean escorting missions, and joint military exercises. Through these opportunities, they can broaden their horizons and exchange experiences with the world’s finest pilots.”

And Chinese or American, who can resist this line: “Becoming a naval pilot is the best choice for those who want to become heroes of the sky and the sea.”

There isn’t likely to be a shortage of candidates.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Image: Reuters.