China Modernizes Airborne Attack Forces


Airborne forces are an important element of the Chinese military and Beijing will continue to invest in their development and upgrade their combat capabilities.

What Kind of Bomber Jet Does China Need? China is pursuing its global interests, including placing focus on expanding its international military presence, as part of its “active defense” doctrine.

Traditionally, Beijing used to rely on its ground forces, but over the recent years it has been heavily investing in the navy and the air force. Now, China is enhancing its airborne forces, a report by the American think-tank Stratfor read.

According to the article, having capable airborne forces is of strategic importance for China. China is one of the largest countries in the world and has a number of remote places along its border. Moreover, China is surrounded by potential flashpoints, including at the border with India and North Korea. “China depends on flexible and mobile forces that can quickly deploy wherever needed, whether to counter an armed invasion or respond to a natural disaster. Airborne forces, which are lightly equipped, well trained and highly mobile, are uniquely suited to that role,” the article read.

In addition, airborne forces are important for global missions, including peacekeeping activities and counterterrorism operations.

Currently, China has capable personnel in the elite 15th Airborne Corps. It composes three divisions of 30,000 troops operating under the aegis of the air force. They are some of the best trained troops with the Chinese military. They are trained for a wide range of activities, including parachute jumps and air assault.

In addition, in order to enhance its capabilities, the 15th Airborne Corps received the most advanced weapons available to the Chinese military, including modern combat armored vehicles, according to Stratfor. However, Chinese airborne troops do not have sufficient transportation capabilities. There is a limited number of Il-76 and Y-8 transport aircraft in their disposal, the article read. “To address this problem, China has been investing heavily in its strategic transport fleet over the past few years. Soon, Beijing will begin to reap the rewards. China, for instance, recently began producing two new indigenously developed transport aircraft, the Shaanxi Y-9 medium-range transport and the Xian Y-20 strategic airlifter,” the article read.

Moreover, China and Ukraine reportedly signed an agreement in August on the delivery of an Antonov An-225, the world’s largest transport aircraft.

“Beijing’s emphasis on its airborne forces, particularly its 15th Airborne Corps, reflects its understanding that its changing military demands require more flexible and mobile power projection capability,” it concluded.