PLA Modernization Progressing on Schedule

The People’s Liberation Army is on track to build a completely modernized force by 2020, according to the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on military and security developments in China, released Wednesday. As such, its air force continues to use the US and Russian air forces as a model to transition from a limited territorial defense to a more agile and flexible force capable of operating in both offensive and defensive roles offshore, according to the report. It says that the January flight test of the J-20 “highlights China’s ambition to produce a fighter aircraft that incorporates stealth attributes, advanced avionics, and super-cruise capable engines over the next several years.” The PLA also is upgrading its B-6 bomber fleet, originally adapted from the Soviet Tu-16, with a longer-range variant armed with a new long-range cruise missile. In addition, China possesses “one of the largest” forces of long-range SAM systems in the world, thanks the acquisition of multiple SA-20 PMU2 battalions over the last five years and the intruduction of the HQ-9. Moreover, Chinese industry is designing “several types” of AWACS aircraft, including the KJ-200, based on the Y-8 airframe, and the KJ-2000, based on a modified Russian IL-76 airframe. (China report; Caution, large file)