The PLA Bayi Air Demonstration Team, China's best-known aerobatic team, is striving to become a world-class air display group as it keeps learning from those that preceded it, a team leader said.
Colonel Wei Guoyi, chief of staff of the team, said on Friday in Changchun, Jilin province, that his team, which belongs to the People's Liberation Army Air Force, has grown a lot over the past decade as a result of the rapid development of the force, citing team members' gains from their six overseas performance missions during this period.
"Through these overseas missions, we have witnessed the air force become stronger, and we also got the chance to expand our horizons and develop new ideas," he said at a news conference on the sidelines of an ongoing open house at an air base in Changchun to mark the Air Force's 70th birthday.
"Attending foreign air shows enables us to understand the gaps between us and top-tier aerobatic teams in the world and to contemplate how we can catch up," he said, noting the Chinese team has taken specific measures in this regard.
"We encourage innovation and creative ideas from our members. We work out two to three new aerobatic maneuvers each year," Wei said. "For instance, we improved our performance plan before coming to this open house to make our maneuvers more intense and more beautiful. We also devised a new method to perfect the effect of color smoke."
Two J-20 fighter jets perform during the show. [Photo by Zou Hong/chinadaily.com.cn]
The Bayi team is performing 22 sets of solo and formation display maneuvers each day during the five-day open house, which concludes on Monday.
Senior Colonel Shen Jinke, the Air Force's spokesman, said at the news conference that the Bayi team is not only a display group but also a combat-ready unit.
"Their flight maneuvers are connected with their combat tasks and are close to fighting tactics," She said. "In addition to display drills, they also train to fly above complex terrains, such as mountain valleys, and they train at night to strengthen their combat skills."
The Bayi team was founded in 1962 as the Chinese military's first air display team and was named after the PLA's founding date, Aug 1. The elite unit has performed more than 660 aerobatic shows at home and abroad.
In another development, Shen announced at another news conference last week in Changchun that the PLA Air Force now has several young pilots capable of operating all of its J-20, J-16 and J-10C fighter jets.
Shen said that thanks to the expansion and innovation in the recruitment of new aviators, more flying talent has been emerging, and there will be more young air force pilots who can fight in multiple combat aircraft.
The J-20 is China's first and the world's third operational stealth fighter jet, as well as the country's most powerful combat plane. The J-16 and J-10C are also top air force fighter jets.
Experts said a pilot needs to have experience and outstanding skills to be able to fly such cutting-edge aircraft.