China aircraft carrier: China steps up pilot recruitment for its fast expanding aircraft carrier programme

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BEIJING: China plans to double the recruitment of aircraft carrier fighter cadet pilots as it aims to have adequate personnel for its fast expanding aircraft carrier fleet, official media here reported Tuesday.

Over 4,500 Chinese students have passed the initial selection in the recruitment programme, almost twice as many as last year.

With China’s second aircraft carrier widely expected to join the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy this year, the recruitment campaign is designed to ensure personnel to meet the needs of the aircraft carrier-borne fighter jet J-15, state-run Global Times reported.

The comprehensive examination phase of the 2019 annual recruitment campaign for aircraft carrier cadet pilots started in January and is due to conclude in April. Students will undergo physical and psychological tests and political examinations, the PLA Navy’s website navy.81.cn reported on Sunday.

This year’s physical exams added a series of tests that pilots of carrier-borne aircraft need to pass, including vision and auditory tests on candidates’ vestibular function, corneal topography and stereovision, the report said.

More than 4,500 students who passed enrolment exams will participate in the next phase, the report said.

During the same recruitment campaign last year, about 2,600 students made it to the comprehensive examination phase, according to the recruitment campaign’s website.

China’s second aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, is widely expected to be delivered to the PLA Navy this year, and China will have a fleet of five to six carriers by the 2030s, reports said.

While the Liaoning and the Type 001A, China’s first and second aircraft carrier, can each carry about 30 fighter jets, future carriers may be designed to carry more than 60, a Beijing-based military expert, was quoted as saying by the report.

China currently operates the J-15 single-seat fighter jet on the Liaoning, but the country has reportedly recently developed a two-seat version of the J-15, which experts say could outperform the original version in electronic combat but at the cost of mobility and payload weight.

The extra seat can also be used to train new pilots, CCTV.com reported.

China’s next generation stealth fighter jet FC-31 and airborne early warning aircraft KJ-600 are likely to be part of the new carriers’ fleet of aircraft, an expert said.





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