Air force 'no threat to others'

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China's quest for a strong air force is in line with the need to safeguard regional stability and world peace, the service's commander-in-chief, General Xu Qiliang said yesterday.

"Regardless of its extent of development, the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) will never pose a military threat to any country," Xu said in an interview to Xinhua News Agency just days before the 60th anniversary of the Chinese air force on Nov 11.

PLAAF will employ a combination of defense and attack strategies, he said.

This means it will constantly improve its capabilities in reconnaissance and early warning, airborne combat capabilities, anti-aircraft and anti-missile, and strategic airlift missions, said Xu.

PLAAF will put its most advanced warplanes on display in the capital to mark the anniversary.

All aircraft, including the Kongjing-2000 Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, J-11 fighters, H-6 bomber jets, and the HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, have been made in China, PLAAF deputy commander He Weirong said.

Most of them were part of the aircraft fly-past during last month's National Day military parade.

Xu, 59, PLAAF's 10th commander-in-chief, called the fly-past a symbol of maturity in the service's third-generation equipment.

Four J-10 and six J-7 fighters from the air force's performance team are scheduled to fly past and paratroopers will display skydiving skills as part of the anniversary gala program.

An international military forum themed "Harmonious Skies" will be held in Beijing this month. More than 300 senior air force personnel from China and abroad are expected to attend the forum to mark PLAAF's landmark anniversary, He said.

"The forum is aimed at building a platform for the air forces of different countries to enhance mutual understanding and exchanges, to discuss how to maintain safety in the skies, and to know about China and its PLA air force better," He said.

Celebrations will also include an exhibition of weapons and equipment of the air force at the China Aviation Museum on the outskirts of Beijing, according to the officer.

"Space and air are the first and most important lines of defense for any modern state," said Wang Mingliang, a professor with the Air Force Command College. "That's why we need to develop public consciousness about its importance."

PLAAF deployed 100,000 personnel during a severe weather spell in early 2008 and a 40-day mission to secure the skies for the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, according to Xu.

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