China's Search for a "Strategic Air Force"

Published in: Journal of Strategic Studies, v. 39, no. 1, 2016, p. 4-28

Posted on RAND.org on August 11, 2016

by Michael Chase, Cristina L. Garafola

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Once dismissed by many outside observers, the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has undergone an impressive transformation over the past two decades, emerging as one of the world's premier air forces. As it continues to modernize, it is focused on becoming a "strategic air force." PLAAF strategists suggest this means it should play a decisive role in protecting Chinese national interests, field modern capabilities commensurate with China's standing as a major power, and enjoy the institutional status befitting its role as a "strategic service," an important consideration given the historical dominance of the ground force in China's military.

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