With growing aspirations in the South China Sea, the Chinese military has committed to expanding its naval aviation powers in the region.
POWER INDEX SCORE
(Ranked 18 of 53)
The People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force (PLANAF) compliments the land- and air-attack forces rather neatly. Much attention is paid to the combat side of the service with 53% of total strength being committed to the fighter force. This group is made up mainly of Soviet-Russian-originated types but a growing concentration is seen in more indigenous developments such as the JH-7, J-10, and J-15. Altogether, the force can handle any modern sortie required of it: direct-attack, airspace denial, patrol, interception and the like.
Unlike other naval powers of the world, the PLANAF fields a bomber force and this is made up of 30 or so Xian H-6 strategic platforms. These are operated form land bases and provide a considerable reach for the force as well as a maritime patrol capability over range. The rotorcraft force (17%) is a strong mix of foreign and domestic types - though domestic models are licensed copies or evolutions of foreign products. Basic roles such as utility, patrol, and transport are covered by the group. The transport force totals around 5% of all fighting strength and provides a much-needed hauling capability for the service. All are land-based aircraft.
The training arm (11%) consists of the usual players for a force this large, covering fighter, flight, and advanced training phases of an airman's journey. Special-mission platforms (accounting for 8% of all strength) provide the service with critical sortie capabilities including SAR, AEW&C, and maritime patrolling. On-order is the J-15 multirole fighter as the Chinese Navy begins its march to a full-operating carrier fighting force - giving the service unprecedented range and power projection to challenge the United States (and others) in the Asia-Pacific theater.NOTES: The WDMMA.org Power Index (PwrIndx) score looks at various qualities of an individual air power (or service branch). While total aircraft certainly influences the rating, aircraft variety (force balance) also plays a key role in determining an air service's placement on the list. Other focused qualities include local industry (aerospace-related) capability, future outlook, and current/recent combat experience. All this is worked into a formula which provides an analytical approach to resolving a force's fighting state in the modern world. This approach to fighting strength is highly theoretical and does not take into account a nation's available manpower or resolve in the face of conflict nor does it involve land and naval fighting strength. The top achievable PwrIndx score belongs to the United States Air Force with its rating of 242.9. As of now, UAV systems are not taken into account due to reporting differences between publicly-available sources (these will be integrated as some point). Navy aviation branches do not take into account the fighting capacity of naval ships.
286 Total available aircraft assuming a Below Average Readiness Rate of 50%.
400 Total available aircraft assuming an Average Readiness Rate of 70%.
429 Total available aircraft assuming an Above Average Readiness Rate of 75%.
458 Total available aircraft assuming an Excellent Readiness Rate of 80%.