Chinese Air Force Increases Use of Simulators in Pilot Training | Eurasia Diary -

24 September, Friday

Chinese Air Force Increases Use of Simulators in Pilot Training

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The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force is increasing the use of simulators in pilot training, an approach that can significantly reduce costs, increase the training time of pilots and practice special scenarios that are hard to replicate with real aircraft, a WeChat public account affiliated with the PLA Daily reported on Sunday.

It also shows that China has established a technically advanced simulation training system, experts said on Monday.

An aviation brigade affiliated with the Air Force of the PLA Central Theatre Command started to use simulators to train pilots in 2019. By 2020 it had established a training simulation centre and proved that it is feasible to reduce training with real aircraft thanks to training simulations this year, the PLA Daily-associated WeChat account No. 34 Military Room said.

Yang Peng, a training staff officer of the brigade, noted that given the cost of aviation fuel, aircraft maintenance and the consumption of spare parts, the cost of training simulators is much lower.

Due to the high costs, pilots get fewer chances to practice with real aircraft. However, simulators will provide more opportunities for them to master flying techniques, the report said, noting that simulators can also replicate many scenarios that cannot be easily tested with real aircraft, including emergencies.

Starting this year, pilots will be using a type of simulator integrated with artificial intelligence that assists in training, learns from each engagement, and can become a top ace, even superior to human pilots, the report said.

China used to lack the technology to develop advanced, realistic training simulators to conduct meaningful training but now it has a complete system for developing and maintaining such simulators, which have become key to the PLA's routine training, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times.

Simulators help pilots improve their flight skills and contribute to flight safety, and train the pilots' situational awareness and help develop new tactics, Fu said, noting that the simulators could become interconnected with pilots using different simulators and fighting each other in simulated combat scenarios.

The PLA Air Force is not the only PLA service that uses training simulators. 

For instance, a logistics support unit affiliated with the PLA Northern Theatre Command Navy used virtual reality (VR) simulators to practice the disassembly of equipment, location of malfunctions and fixing of pipelines in a wartime fuel support drill, the PLA Daily reported in March.

A brigade attached to the 83rd Group Army of the PLA has set up more than 10 VR training simulation rooms for instruction in multiple areas, including individual combat skills and coordinated action and command, China Central Television reported earlier this year.

The Rocket Force is also using similar simulation technologies to practice the launch of missiles, like during a launch exercise conducted in mid-March reported by the PLA Daily in March.

The deployment of training simulations is a reflection of the PLA's development of a new military training system and the strengthening of the military by science and technology, analysts said.



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