A review of existing and future capability is essential to offer a holistic appraisal of current and predicted trajectory of the IAF vs. PLAAF discourse.

Air Dominance,IAF,National Security,PLAAF,Strategic Support Force

This article originally appeared in the book ➔ Defence Primer 2018: An Indian Military in Transformation?


‘The Air Force will extend its reach from the sky to the space from defense of Chinese territory to attack as well. We will improve the overall capability to strike a t long⎯distance targets with high precision, fight electronic or internet warfare with backup from space.

— Xu Qiliang (Former PLAAF chief & Current Vice Chairman, CMC) [1]

Introduction

For some decades now there has been a quiet confidence within the Indian Air Force (IAF) that it would more than hold its own against the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in a short, localised and high intensity India⎯China conflict across the Line of Actual Control. The three main competencies around which this confidence evolved comprised doctrinal robustness, superior aerial platforms and perceptions of superior training and combat orientation.

Enhancing the confidence of the IAF’s operational planners was the combat experience gained by the IAF during the Kargil conflict of 1999 and the prolonged operational hibernation of the PLAAF after the Korean War in the 1950s. The employment of offensive air power at altitudes ranging from 14,000⎯18,000 feet during the Kargil conflict helped the IAF validate many tactics and procedures that no air force had attempted before, including the employment of helicopters. [2] However, the numerous shortfalls in joint war⎯fighting methodologies that were brought out by the Kargil Committee Report steered by Shri K. Subrahmanyam served as a compass for the IAF and Indian Army to reflect upon. The extensive employment of medium and heavy⎯lift helicopters (Mi17s and Mi⎯26s) in operationally live areas of Siachen and Western Ladakh and the operationalisation of high⎯altitude airfields and Advance Landing Grounds (ALGs), close to the LAC, offered potential for speedy reinforcement of defensive positions and logistics replenishment. Building on their combat experience from the 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars with Pakistan, IAF fighter pilots gained experience through regular exercises with western air forces like the US Air Force (USAF), the Royal Air Force (RAF), the French Air Force(FAF) and other regional air forces like the Singapore Air Force.


Enhancing the confidence of the IAF’s operational planners was the combat experience gained by the IAF during the Kargil conflict of 1999 and the prolonged operational hibernation of the PLAAF after the Korean War in the 1950s.


Through much of the 1970s and 1980s, the PLAAF was stagnant, following the unfortunate death of their chief Lin Bao who challenged Mao in a power struggle and then perished in an air crash while attempting to flee China. [3] Adding to the PLAAF’s doctrinal isolation was an inventory of obsolete platforms and equipment of Soviet⎯origin crude reverse engineered systems that were poorly supported by a struggling domestic aviation industry. Though many strategic analysts attribute the rejuvenation of the PLAAF to Chinese politician Deng Xiaoping, there are many drivers that have contributed to the revival of the PLAAF as a potent fighting force and a key determinant of contemporary Chinese military strategy.

Despite many recent analyses in India that point to a rather optimistic and skewed capability assessment in favour of the IAF, this paper will argue that policy and security planners would do well to take note of remarkable progress in the PLAAF’s doctrinal advancements, training philosophy and plugging capability gaps with a judicious mix of indigenous equipment and state⎯of⎯the⎯art Russian equipment. The paper will also argue that this transformation has very little to do with attempting to catch up with the IAF, but has much to do with how Chinese air power can contribute to the larger strategic missions of China emerging as a global power that has the muscle to match the United States on a turf that appeared unsurmountable a decade ago. [4]

Recent IAF doctrinal evolution

The Gulf War of 1991 is a suitable marker to track the IAF’s recent doctrinal evolution. The IAF is the fourth largest air force in the world with approximately 150,000 personnel and some 1,500 aircraft, of which more than 500 are fourth⎯generation fighter and fighter⎯bomber aircraft (approximately 100⎯150 of these are third⎯generation converts through extensive modifications). [5] The release of an all⎯encompassing doctrine into the public domain by the IAF in 2012 accompanied by clear articulation of a work ethos in the form of the core values of mission, integrity and excellence, marked the metamorphosis of the IAF from a predominantly tactical air force into a semi⎯strategic force with adequate ‘full spectrum capability’. [6]

Doctrinal evolution in the IAF has been a slow process, impeded as it has been by a continuous struggle for doctrinal space within a ‘land⎯centric’ military environment. Despite a rich operational legacy left behind by the British and the innovative employment of air power in independent India’s first war with Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in 1947⎯48, there was not much development on the doctrinal front for almost four decades given that the force structure and capabilities of the IAF did not go much beyond providing limited counter⎯air and interdiction, localised air defence and tactical air support to the Indian Army.


Doctrinal evolution in the IAF has been a slow process, impeded as it has been by a continuous struggle for doctrinal space within a ‘land⎯centric’ military environment.


Air Chief Marshal Pratap Chandra Lal, the IAF chief during the 1971 war with Pakistan, re⎯prioritised the roles and missions of the IAF to support the higher directions for war, which looked at deterrence and protection of sovereignty as key drivers. Air Defence, Close Air Support and Battle Field Air Interdiction emerged as Key Result Areas (KRAs). They took precedence over offensive action deep into enemy territory. Lal writes with great clarity on the issue in his book ‘My Years with the IAF’:

After the 1965 operations, there was considerable heart searching in the Air Force. Early in 1969 at the Commanders’ Conference, we decided that the priorities for air operations had to change. Air Defence of the homeland and our air bases remained priority one. The next most important job was support of the Army and Navy, the army taking precedence over the Navy. Bombing, especially as a weapon to counter or neutralise or counter the enemy air, came third on our list of priorities. [7]

This was the most emphatic doctrinal statement to emerge from the IAF, and Lal ensured that the IAF followed this in both letter and spirit while planning and conducting air operations in the two⎯front 1971 war with Pakistan.

The decades of 1980s and 1990s saw the IAF attempt to create a doctrinal template that looked at prosecuting air operations in a sequential manner wherein winning the air battle first was a prerequisite before conducting a successful air⎯land campaign. Air Superiority and Air Dominance were considered achievable with the advent of air superiority and multi⎯role aircraft like the MiG⎯29, Mirage⎯2000 and Su⎯30 MKI. The success of Israeli and US air power in the 1982 Bekaa Valley campaign and in 1991 during the Desert Storm spurred the development of tactics within the IAF to achieve Air Superiority before prosecuting other missions with vigour.

The Kargil war with Pakistan forced the IAF to rethink aerial strategies as it attempted to orchestrate an aerial campaign at altitudes of 14,000⎯18,000 feet against well camouflaged targets. Combining effective reconnaissance with ingenious targeting with both precision and ‘dumb’ bombs, the IAF created a disproportionate strategic and psychological effect, and hastened the final eviction of the intruders from multiple heights by the Indian Army [8]. What really went unnoticed was that the ‘ghosts of 1962’ were addressed by the IAF in terms of complementing the Indian Army’s efforts in a high altitude battle. Ben Lambeth, arguably the most distinguished air power analyst and historian of recent times, offers a most dispassionate critique of modern Indian air power and writes in a recent monograph:

“In the Kargil War, the IAF rapidly adapted to the air campaign’s unique operational challenges, which included enemy positions at elevations of 14,000 to 18,000 feet, a stark backdrop of rocks and snow that made for uncommonly difficult visual target acquisition, and a restriction against crossing the Line of Control that borders with Pakistan. Without question, the effective asymmetric use of IAF airpower was pivotal in shaping the war’s successful course and outcome for India”. [9]


The decades of 1980s and 1990s saw the IAF attempt to create a doctrinal template that looked at prosecuting air operations in a sequential manner wherein winning the air battle first was a prerequisite before conducting a successful air⎯land campaign. Air Superiority and Air Dominance were considered achievable with the advent of air superiority and multi⎯role aircraft like the MiG⎯29, Mirage⎯2000 and Su⎯30 MKI.


The first decade of the 21st century saw the IAF engaging with frontline western air forces like the RAF, FAF and the USAF in wide⎯ranging air combat exercises. The excellent performance of the IAF gave it further confidence to articulate itself cogently on the effective exploitation of air power.

Because of both the changing paradigms of global warfare and its own refined understanding of global air power, the IAF effected two changes in its doctrinal discourse too. The first one was to discard the existing principles of sequential warfare and adapt to what was increasingly called parallel warfare, or the simultaneous application of combat power from day one of a conflict; the aim being to force conflict termination at the earliest. The second doctrinal shift saw an increased focus on the employment of air power at the lower end of the spectrum of conflict and an increased emphasis on joint operations in varied terrain with missions like shaping the battlefield and interdiction of the enemy’s combat potential before it entered a theatre or Tactical Battle Area (TBA).

Growth of PLAAF doctrine

The most comprehensive initial explanation of tenets of modern Chinese air power can be found in a 2011 monograph put together by a group of Rand researchers titled ‘Shaking the Heavens and Splitting the Earth’. The five basic concepts of executing strategic coercion, independent and concentrated use of air power, joint application with other services, strategic force delivery and seizing information and electromagnetic superiority reveals a new and aggressive intent. What it also indicates is that the Chinese were willing to project air power as a strategic tool only after spectacular advances in Chinese aviation and space technologies manifested into platforms and capabilities. [10]

review, existing, future, capability, appraisal, trajectory, PLAAF, confidence, operational, planners, combat experience, China

A 2017 edited volume from the China⎯centric Jamestown Foundation in Washington DC titled ‘China’s Evolving Military Strategy’ is an excellent primer to look at the current PLAAF doctrine and strategy based on multiple Chinese strategic prescriptions from the Academy of Military Sciences and the National Defence University. At the fundamental level, there is much that has been written in the ‘Science of Military Strategy’ (2013)that challenges many of the “sacred cows of the PLA, starting with the dominance of the ground forces and calling for a more equal focus on ground, sea, air, space and cyber domains.” [11] The speed with which ideas about new domains have been incorporated in China’s latest White Paper is reflected in how Space has now emerged as a domain that falls under the new Strategic Support Force, albeit still under the knowledge⎯driven umbrella of the PLAAF. This doctrinal shift much resembles the IAF’s dilemma when it comes to claiming ownership of Space, but having to share control with the other two services as much bandwidth is used by all the three services. Just as a tri⎯service Space Command is on the integration table in India, the new Strategic Support Force is almost ready to assume ownership of Space in China with an initial PLAAF⎯heavy structure, but with shared ownership.

The second and most striking development that ought to be taken seriously is the presence of two high⎯ranking PLAAF officers on the Central Military Commission (CMC). While the PLAAF chief was granted a slot on the CMC along with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) chiefs in 2004, it is the elevation of a former PLAAF commander Xu Qiliang in 2012 as a Vice Chairman of the CMC [12] that has indicated Chinese President and CMC Chairman Xi Jinping’s resolve to develop air and space power capability at a rate that could take the world by surprise in a decade or so. It is also an indication of Jinping’s willingness to look beyond the PLA for military guidance. Rand Corporation in an authoritative monograph ‘Assessing the Training and Operational Proficiency of China’s Aerospace Forces’,has tracked the many ‘firsts’ in Xu Qiliang’s career, including a stint as the Deputy Chief of the PLA General Staff Department preceding his appointment as PLAAF commander in 2004⎯2005, indicating a focus on joint operations. Following Xu’s footsteps with similar assignment profiles is the current PLAAF chief, Ma Xiaotian. A Su⎯30 qualified pilot as early as 1998 and currently closing in on 70 years, indicating the value he offers the PLAAF, is said to have pushed for greater focus on aerospace power as the key to an exponential growth in China’s military capability. He is reputed to offer hawkish views on regional security and almost never travels abroad. [13] These vignettes, more than anything else, should serve as a cautionary marker for the IAF not to take a few operational and tactical markers as reflectors of a capability gap, and look at the larger picture to assess comparative doctrinal and strategic shifts that are taking place within the PLAAF.


The speed with which ideas about new domains have been incorporated in China’s latest White Paper is reflected in how Space has now emerged as a domain that falls under the new Strategic Support Force, albeit still under the knowledge⎯driven umbrella of the PLAAF. This doctrinal shift much resembles the IAF’s dilemma when it comes to claiming ownership of Space, but having to share control with the other two services as much bandwidth is used by all the three services.


The fine print of emerging PLAAF capabilities reveals a striking similarity with most modern air forces. The emphasis on long⎯range offensive precision strikes in air and space with enablers like refuelers and AWACS seems to focus on countering any aggression from Japanese, Taiwanese and US maritime forces with a combination of air and surface launched weapons. This obviously calls for synergy between the PLAAF and the PLSRF (People’s Liberation Strategic Support Force), earlier called the Second Artillery, but now renamed to indicate the reach of the force.

The next important doctrinal improvement that should alert the IAF is in the realm of multi⎯tiered air defence systems and the ability to promulgate and enforce Air Defence Identification Zones(ADIZs) and ‘no fly zones’. Here again, the PLAAF’s capability development has been triggered by the need to extend its eastern air defence coverage well beyond the first island chain in response to the US pivot to Asia and the emergence of the Indo⎯Pacific strategic maritime space. A spin⎯off from this capability will be the ability to cover vast airspace in TAR and look deep into Indian air space. China’s extensive constellation of surveillance satellites with short revisit cycles adds significant punch to target locating and tracking capability. This is an area where China has a significant lead over India’s indigenous military space⎯support programme that is only likely to increase over the years unless there is an urgent military focus to India’s space programme that complements a successful civilian space programme.

The improvement in tactical and strategic airlift capabilities within the PLAAF, though not as pronounced as in the IAF, has resulted in the former being able to project non⎯kinetic capabilities of air power like it did in response to the Nepal earthquake. Notwithstanding the excellent infrastructure in TAR,which supports surface movement of formations and logistics support, the PLAAF is cognisant of the IAF’s increased responsiveness by way of its airlift capabilities and operationalisation of numerous Advance Landing Grounds (ALGs) and airstrips along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Its current development and production of medium and heavy lift platforms in large numbers, like the Y⎯20, will only add to PLA’s ability to induct and switch forces through multiple mediums. Finally, the PLAAF’s increased focus on electronic warfare, cyber and other support forces like ‘base protection forces’ is testimony to a concerted drive to make the PLAAF a contemporary and modern force. The newly created PLA Strategic Support Force (SSF) also offers significant force multiplier support to the PLAAF and contrasts with the Indian armed forces’ inability to optimally harness its space, cyber and information warfare resources.


The PLAAF’s increased focus on electronic warfare, cyber and other support forces like ‘base protection forces’ is testimony to a concerted drive to make the PLAAF a contemporary and modern force.


Capability match⎯up

Having explored the doctrinal face⎯off, a review of existing and future capability is essential to offer a holistic appraisal of current and predicted trajectory of the IAF vs PLAAF discourse in the context of an aerial face⎯off in a limited but high⎯intensity and high⎯altitude conflict. In the realm of strategic space assets for surveillance, reconnaissance, communication, targeting, electronic warfare and navigation, China is way ahead of India with its large constellation of both the latest Yaogan⎯30 series of Low Earth Orbit satellites and the BeiDou family of navigation satellites. [14] As per conservative estimates, China had over 130 military satellites in 2015 and had doubled its launch rate during the period of 2009⎯2014 as compared to the period of 2003⎯2008. In comparison, India’s Cartosat, RISAT, INSAT, GSAT and IRNSS family of satellites are woefully inadequate, both in terms of numbers and capability to offer India any kind of parity. However, if one looks at a limited conflict scenario that demands limited coverage, the asymmetry is less pronounced. Translating this into operational terms, what space⎯superiority and better targeting mosaics offers the PLAAF is a first⎯strike capability by the PLARF against static Indian combat capability. Short Range Conventionally armed SRBMs like the DF⎯11 and DF⎯15 fired from mobile launchers well inside Tibet would exploit their 350⎯800+ NM ranges to hit targets comprising of airfields, logistics nodes, ammunition dumps and the likes with a reported accuracy of upto 5 metres, though the more likely accuracy for a larger number of missiles is around 30 metres. [15]


As per conservative estimates, China had over 130 military satellites in 2015 and had doubled its launch rate during the period of 2009⎯2014 as compared to the period of 2003⎯2008. In comparison, India’s Cartosat, RISAT, INSAT, GSAT and IRNSS family of satellites are woefully inadequate, both in terms of numbers and capability to offer India any kind of parity.


What this can achieve is to blunt the IAF’s ability to launch its potent Air Superiority Fighter, Multi⎯Role Combat Aircraft and Ground Attack fleets comprising the Su⎯30 MKI, Mirage⎯2000, MiG⎯29 and Jaguar aircraft with the primary aim to fight for some degree of dominance over the PLAAF over a limited theatre of operation.

IAF, Kargil conflict, doctrinal, evolution, struggle, air operations, air battle, Indian Air Force

The IAF’s combat edge in the air has narrowed down significantly with one Rand report pegging the number of fourth⎯generation aircraft with the PLAAF as close to 700, comprising a combination of JF⎯10s, JF⎯11s, SU⎯27s and the potent SU⎯30 MKK, which is said to be only a tad inferior to the IAF Su⎯30 MKI. Added to these will also be the availability of at least a squadron worth of the aircraft carrier⎯based JF⎯15 4.5 Generation fighter. Of immediate worry for the IAF is the ability of the latest variant of the H⎯6 bomber, the H⎯6K, to carry six DH⎯10 cruise missiles, which have a range of around 1,500 km. These bombers have a combat radius of 1,800 kms, [16] which means that they do not need to get airborne from airfields in Tibet and can launch their cruise missiles on critical Indian military targets from well outside any kind of air defence umbrella that the IAF can put in place over the next decade. Though the Chinese J⎯20 and JFv31 Stealth fighters are some time away from operationalisation, the IAF’s acquisition of the Rafale and induction of the indigenously⎯built Tejas would take time to translate into operational capability.

Many analysts argue that the IAF’s air combat and weapon delivery capability is superior because of better training and more flying that Indian aircrew manage monthly. The IAF’s much wider exposure to western tactics and best practices that have accrued over the last two decades have been nullified in recent years by the increase in the frequency with which the PLAAF has been exercising with JF⎯17s and F⎯16s of the Pakistan Air Force. In terms of sortie generation rates and the ability to sustain 24x7 operations, there has been a surge in PLAAF’s capability though it still may not match the IAF.

Coupled with the high probability of widespread and debilitating surface⎯to⎯surface missile strikes on IAF combat capability that could severely hamper sortie generation rates, the PLAAF’s distinctly superior network paralysing capabilities could seriously impact the IAF’s command and control systems. If one moves sequentially, the next comparison leads towards the PLAAF’s significantly superior air defence capability led by a multi⎯layered and highly potent missile umbrella that is rated very highly even by US standards. Comprising the newly acquired S⎯400, the older S⎯300 and its improved and reverse engineered version named the HQ⎯9 — that the IAF is particularly concerned about — and the shorter⎯range HQ⎯12, the IAF’s offensive air operations over the Tibetan plateau would be hotly contested even over the Tactical Battle Area, which is envisaged to be closer to the LAC and hundreds of kms away from PLAAF missile locations. Finding and destroying some of those systems in a dense Electro⎯Magnetic environment would be among the toughest and yet most vital missions for the IAF. Though the IAF, too, is shortly inducting the S⎯400 long range air defence system and would integrate it with the Medium Range SAM and Akash systems, the PLAAF network looks vastly superior upfront. Justin Bronk, a researcher with RUSI in London worries about the survivability of IAF fighter aircraft over the Tactical Battles areas in the vicinity of the LAC should reports of the PLAAF integrating its latest mobile SAM systems with forward PLA infantry formations in TAR. [17]

If there is one area where the IAF would be more than a match for the PLAAF, it would be in terms of exploiting its medium and heavy lift transport and helicopter platforms in support of army operations. In response to the availability and expansion of PLAAF airbases in TAR, the increased availability of Advanced Landing Grounds and airstrips in Ladakh and Arunachal would offset the absence of a road/railway network in sustaining short and medium term operations. [18] Much is talked about the potency of PLAAF’s airborne divisions, however, the efficacy of large airborne forces in mountainous terrain is severely limited and there is no question of launching airborne forces without total air superiority, a condition that the PLAAF is highly unlikely to achieve even in the medium term (four to eight weeks). IAF airborne assets to support Special Forces’ operations would be more than adequate with C⎯130s Mi⎯17 V5s and the soon⎯to⎯be inducted Chinooks. Though the induction of aircraft like the Y⎯20 (similar to the IAFs C⎯17 heavy⎯lift aircraft) is likely to address this imbalance, the continued difficulty that the Chinese have faced in producing high⎯quality aero⎯engines is likely to hamper the induction of this aircraft as the PLAAF hopes to induct hundreds of these platforms over the next decade.The induction of the Apache Attack Helicopters with its robust Self Protection suite is likely to add significant punch to the IAF’s ability to support surface operations including the remote possibility of limited armour operations in the theatre.


In response to the availability and expansion of PLAAF airbases in TAR, the increased availability of Advanced Landing Grounds and airstrips in Ladakh and Arunachal would offset the absence of a road/railway network in sustaining short and medium term operations.


Prognosis

With its superior space and information warfare assets, the PLAAF has the first⎯mover advantage over the IAF. When coupled with its stand⎯off attack capability and superior multi⎯layered air defence system, the initiative clearly lies to the north. With its track record of not being the aggressor in most of its conflicts with either China or Pakistan, the chances of the IAF being hit first along a wide front by the PLARF and then having to respond means that survivability of assets, spectrum and networks is non⎯negotiable. Only then will the IAF be able to suitably respond with what is still a marginally superior offensive fighter force and highly responsive transport and helicopter fleet. While the PLAAF’s increased integration, particularly with the PLA, PLARF and SSF, and embedded participation in joint exercises in the recent past must be noted with concern, the IAF’s recent emphasis on parallel operations and continuous integration with the Indian Army in high⎯altitude terrain will result in immediate impact in and around the TBA. The cat⎯and⎯mouse game along the LAC will continue in the skies with the PLAAF seeking to deny the IAF space and time to effectively interdict the PLA’s combat capability by blinding it and keeping it grounded, while the IAF will seek to get airborne at the first opportunity, blunt some of the PLAAFs air defence capability and cause attrition to both PLAAF fighters and the PLA’s numerically superior forces on the ground. The bottom⎯line in this equation is that as China closes the military gap with the US, particularly in the realm of space, air power, SRBM/MRBM and network⎯centric warfare capability, the IAF must not be complacent. Instead, it must be prepared for a non⎯linear widening of the capability gap that already exists.


[1] Speaking on the 60th anniversary of PLAAF in Edmund Burke, et al., Assessing the Training Proficiency of China’s Aerospace Forces: Selections from the Inaugural Conference of the China Aerospace Studies Institute (CASI) (Santa Monica: Rand Publication, 2016), p.17

[2] Subramaniam, Arjun. ‘Doctrinal Evolution in the Indian Air Force: towards a Strategic Future’ in Handbook of Indian Defence Policy: Themes, Structures and Doctrines, ed. Harsh Pant (New Delhi: Routledge, 2015), p.226.

[3] Garafola, Cristina L. ‘Chapter3: The Evolution of PLAAF Mission, Roles and Requirements’ in China’s Evolving Military Strategy, ed. Joe McReynolds (Washington, DC, Jamestown Foundation, 2017), p.76.

[4] Heginbotham, Eric & 13 other contributors, The U.S-China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography and the Evolving Balance of Power 1996-2017, (Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, 2015), pp.45-69

[5] Subramaniam, Arjun. ‘Doctrinal Evolution of the Indian Air Force’, p.219.

[6] Basic Doctrine of the Indian Air Force – IAP 2000-12. 2012. New Delhi: Air Headquarters. Also available online at http://www.scribd.com/doc/109721067/Basic-Doctrine-of-Indian-Air-Force-2012-PDF

[7] Lal, P.C.. My Years with the IAF, (New Delhi: Lancer Publications, 1986), p.174

[8] Subramaniam, Arjun. ‘Kargil Revisited: Air Operations in a High Altitude Conflict’, CLAWS Journal, Summer 2008, pp.183-195

[9] Lambeth, Benjamin. ‘Air Power at 18,000 ft: The Indian Air Force in the Kargil War (Washington D.C: Carnegie Endowment, 2012) p.1

[10] Cliff, Roger; Fei, John; Hagen, Jeff; Hague, Elizabeth; Heginbotham, Eric; Stillion, John. Shaking the Heavens and Splitting the Earth: Chinese Air Force Employment Concepts in the 21st Century, ( Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, 2011)

[11] Fravel, M Taylor. ‘Chapter 2: China’s changing approach to Military Strategy: The Science of Military Strategy from 2001 and 2013’ ed. ed. Joe McReynolds (Washington, DC, Jamestown Foundation, 2017),p.54.

[12] Garalofa, Cristina L. China’s Evolving Military Strategy, p.83

[13] Burke, Edmund et al., Assessing the Training Proficiency of China’s Aerospace Forces: Selections from the Inaugural Conference of the China Aerospace Studies Institute (CASI) (Santa Monica: Rand Publication, 2016), pp.10-20

[14] http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2113427/months-after-rocket-failure-china-sends-spy-satellites-space

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2118616/china-launches-satellites-extend-global-range-its-version-gps

[15] Heginbotham, Eric et al., The US-China Military Scorecard: Scorecard 1: Chinese Capability to attack Air Bases, pp.45-49

[16] Ibid

[17] Based on a conversation on emerging PLAAF capabilities.

[18] Rajat Pandit, ‘China has five airbases, extensive rail-road networks in Tibet: Antony’, Times of India Mar 8, 2011 at https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/China-has-five-airbases-extensive-rail-road-networks-in-Tibet-Antony/articleshow/7648434.cms, accessed 13 November 2017.

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