The Wang Hai Brigade, China’s most elite fighter unit, was featured on public broadcaster CCTV on Tuesday. This is the “elite elite” of the Chinese armed forces, where only the best pilots and the most modern machines, such as fifth-generation J-20 fighters, go. Recordings of this type are rarely made available by Beijing.
China’s state-owned television CCTV on Tuesday aired a piece dubbed “Soldiers of the Wang Hai Brigade.” It was devoted to the most elite Chinese fighter aviation unit – the 9th Fighter Brigade stationed at the Wuhu Air Base in Anhui Province. This brigade is called the “elite elite” of the Chinese air force, and its name was taken from Wang Hai, a Chinese fighter ace during the Korean War (1950-1953).
Chinese Top Gun
Materials of this type are rarely shown publicly by Beijing. This time, however, the pretext was to show off the constant combat readiness maintained by the air force on the eve of the Chinese New Year celebrations on January 22, 2023. The 9th Fighter Brigade is the first unit equipped with the most modern Chinese fifth generation J-20 fighters. Its pilots are selected from among the best in the entire Chinese air force, which may bring associations with the famous American Top Gun – an elite SFTI (Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor) course.
As reported on CCTV, the Wang Hai Brigade recently underwent combat qualification training, necessary for its pilots to be able to perform combat duty in J-20 machines. – All pilots dream of flying the most advanced aircraft in the country. When you qualify (to fly the J-20 – ed.), the responsibility rests on you even more – says one of the pilots, Wei Xin, in front of the camera.
Later in the material shot for propaganda purposes, many words are spoken about the “heroism” of Chinese heroes and their willingness to give their lives for the country. At the same time, however, many shots of J-20 fighters are shown, both taking off from their base and performing in-flight maneuvers. This is a rare opportunity to see the best Chinese fighters, which until now have been shown almost exclusively in sterile conditions at the annual air show in Zhuhai.
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The best Chinese fighter
The J-20 is a state-of-the-art Chinese fighter that is to become the backbone of China’s fighter forces in the near future. It is a twin-engine machine with reduced radar detection (stealth technology) designed to gain air superiority and carry out precise strikes against ground targets. The J-20 is considered the Chinese equivalent of the latest American F-35 fighters, although visually it looks more like the older F-22. Like the F-35, this fighter is produced in three variants, one of which is designed to operate from the short decks of aircraft carriers.
After entering service in February 2018, it became the third operationally ready fifth-generation fighter in the world – next to the American F-35 and F-22. However, the actual comparison of these machines remains only a matter of speculation. Most Western experts are of the opinion that although the J-20 is a huge developmental leap for Chinese aviation, the machine is still inferior to the most modern American fighters in terms of the technologies, software and techniques used. In early 2022, information appeared that J-20 and J-35 met for the first time in the air over the waters of the South China Sea.
Main photo source: REUTERS