This series of awesome photos, said to have been recently released by China's People's Liberation Army Air Force, shows us a rapidly growing air force that is slowly adopting a more westernized 'pilot-centric' concept of fighter operations. Nowhere is this more evident than in China's growing 'Golden Helmet' air combat competition, which you can read about here.
Recently, China has executed a very focused public affairs push to highlight the Golden Helmet competition and its winners in what seems like an attempt to show that it is putting more of a premium on individuality within its air forces than ever before. Such a move is a big departure from past norms. This is not just due to China's communist socio-economic organization but also because the PLAAF adopted Soviet-like fighter tactics for decades, where radar controllers on the ground were as responsible for winning or losing an air-to-air engagement than the pilots themselves. This method of aerial combat is known as Ground Control Intercept, or GCI, and it is quickly becoming a relic of the past.
Like the rest of China, its military is changing and becoming a more western-styled force, with a greater focus on individual decision making than inflexible 'collective' combat doctrine. And these awesome photos, highlighting the Golden Helmet competition, are just more evidence of this change.
Photos from CANNEWS via the PLAAF
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com